How to be a survivor

I live my life from a three-ring red notebook.
It contains my schedule and my to do list, a grocery list, a list of healthy foods that should be eaten daily, a summary of my finances, a list of frequently-used telephone numbers, and my 2010 goals.
And most important of all, three articles of wisdom to live by.
This wisdom comes from two books–“Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and “Love, Medicine & Miracles” by Bernie Siegel, M.D.
And from a May, 1988 issue of Woman’s Day, an article entitled “Superimmunity: How to Get It.”
In 1988, we were just catching on to how much the mind affects the body. Diane Hales wrote, “The state of your mind can have an enormous impact on the state of your body’s immunity.
“When you get stressed or distressed, your body reflects it.”
You lose a job, your basement gets flooded, you have a dispute with an acquaintance, you lose money in the stock market, a close friend dies, unexpected company arrives–and your risk of sickness rises.
But what matters more than stress itself is how you respond to it.
The excerpt from Bernie Siegel says essentially the same thing. Siegel quotes psychologist Al Siebert, who did a study of very ill patients and other people in extremely stressful situations to find out why some survived while others didn’t.
Siebert found the “survivor personality” can be learned. A few of these characteristics include playfulness for its own sake and the ability to become so deeply absorbed in an activity that you completely lose track of time.
It also includes being non-judgmental, keeping a positive outlook in adversity, and having empathy for other people—even opponents.
And my favorite characteristic is the feeling of getting smarter and enjoying life more as you get older.
I feel good every time I read that list. With attitudes like that, we can all expect to age well–to be survivors.
Which brings us to the excerpt from “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.” As we develop survivor personalities and increase our longevity, we must develop healthier habits to maintain the bodies that will carry us through the years.
“In the 19th century, when only one in 10 people lived to be 65, anyone who survived to 90 or 100 qualified as a source of wisdom about longevity,” wrote Chopra.
Several long-lived doctors in the Victorian era wrote books on longevity. All were advocates of eating a simple diet, maintaining close social ties, keeping active in old age, breathing deeply, and exercising.
One doctor still climbed three flights of stairs to reach his study when he was 99. Another, who lived to be 95, recommended walking one-three hours every day and taking vacations that included mountain climbing.
Other suggestions are develop an easy-going personality and get enough rest, plenty of wholesome liquids, and proper medical attention in case of illness.
So if you want to live long and healthy, listen to the wisdom of the ages.
Even if you don’t have a goal to reach 100, remember it isn’t entirely your choice. So why not choose today to develop a superimmunity lifestyle, become a survivor, and prepare yourself for healthy longevity.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

Posted in Uncategorized