Don’t take yourself so seriously

Like a child, our dog Phoebe has selective hearing. When we say, “Let’s go for a walk, Phoebe,” she springs up with her tail wagging and waits for her leash.
The same is true when we say “Go in the truck” or “Do you want a treat?”
And every time the telephone rings, she comes running to find out if it is for her. It’s often our daughter from next door, asking us to send Phoebe over.
But when we ask her to “go under” the coffee table when we have guests, it’s often a different story. The same is true when we tell her not to chase rabbits or squirrels, or not to touch a plate of meat on the cupboard.
Then she has very poor hearing.
Sometimes, I feel like Phoebe when it comes to my health.
When I read that a little bit of dark chocolate is helpful in lowering cholesterol, I have wonderful hearing. And when I read that games and card playing are helpful in delaying Alzheimer’s, I’m very faithful about playing bridge on the computer.
But when I hear that beans and avocados lower cholesterol, my hearing isn’t quite as sharp. And when I read that plenty of sleep delays aging, I still play bridge till midnight.
But still, I don’t feel a bit guilty. I enjoy eating the dark chocolate and playing bridge. And I believe that when you enjoy something, it helps a lot.
So what are the fun things to do to delay aging, besides eating chocolate and playing cards?
Take food, for instance. Did you know that a snack of celery filled with peanut butter, a few dried apricots, an oatmeal cookie, or a banana can help reduce your blood pressure?
A bowl of blueberries is good for your eyes and may help delay macular degeneration, as will a couple of brazil nuts every day. If your cholesterol needs lowering, feast on salmon patties and eat a small handful of almonds or walnuts every day.
An activity that helps lower your blood pressure, according to Dr. Walter Bortz, is to pet a dog.
In his book “Dare to Be 100,” Bortz says, “Scratching your dog’s ears not only lowers the dog’s pulse rate and blood pressure, but yours as well.”
Bortz says that with a dog in the house, humans have better control of diabetes, better cancer survival and recovery, and easier recuperation after a heart attack.
But perhaps your healthiest lifestyle choice is turning your attention to making friends.
People with satisfying social relationships remain more mentally alert and have stronger disease-fighting immune systems. So make friends with your spouse, your grandchildren, your Mah Jongg partners, your fellow church-goers, and your exercise partners.
Join groups of people who share your interests. To grow, friendships need a context. So garden together, quilt together, play games together. Find a shared endeavour that provides regular contact with people you enjoy.
And always look for an element of play in your friendships. As a wise person once said, “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
So when it comes to aging, don’t take yourself so seriously—just have fun.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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