At first it may seem counterintuitive. Sure, it’s clear how technology can save lives and help us monitor our health. But does tech make us happier? Or is it responsible for just the opposite?
The answer is that it can do either, and it’s up to us how we use it. Here I wanted to take an objective look at what scientific evidence shows are the top drivers for happiness and longevity and surmise how technology can potentially play a role. For some, the answer is glaringly obvious. For others it’s perhaps a stretch, but one worth making…
It turns out there are quite a few decisions we make that affect our happiness and longevity. In this post we’ll review #20 through #16, and in the next posts we’ll continue the countdown to #1. I found there to be a few surprises! Let’s see how this compares with your expectations. And if you’d like to source the original article which we’ve adapted including technology tips, you can find that here.
20 – Eat Chocolate
This may be 20th on the list, but it is one of my favorites! Why is it healthy? Chocolate contains both flavonoids and antioxidants. Flavonoids assists cardiovascular health, while antioxidants are believed to prevent or delay certain damage to our cells. Dark chocolate is considered best as it contains more than twice as many antioxidants as milk chocolate (and has fewer calories). Why it makes us happy should be obvious.
So how can technology help us get more of a good thing? Even dark chocolate is something we should enjoy in moderation. It’s fattening and let’s face it, it doesn’t come cheap, so you want to choose wisely. Try searching “consumer reviews of chocolate”. Find the results specific to your location. (No sense tempting yourself with a brand not available near you!) Because it’s a popular subject, you’re apt to find even major newspapers and consumer sites like Consumer Reports having reviewed chocolate, but also professional chocolatiers in articles like this in Business Insider.
19 – Be Optimistic
Researchers found that optimistic people decreased their risk of early death by 50 per cent compared with those who are more pessimistic. You may think that we can’t change how we are, but that’s simply not true. There are a number of ways we can train ourselves to be more optimistic. You’ll find recommendations here that include actions like using positive mantras (you can search online for ones specific to your situation), avoid trying to predict (ie worry about) the future, and avoid dwelling on the past. Hint: the present is the most positive “gift” you can give yourself.
18 – Happy Marriage
Married people tend to have better health than unmarried people. Why? Because they tend to offer encouragement, support, and protection from daily problems. They are also more able to handle stress better as a result. How can technology help if you don’t currently tick this box? If you are married but don’t feel you’re experiencing the support your relationship should afford, you can start your search for counseling online, looking for accredited programs and counselors in your area. Some sessions may even be available remotely. And of course if you aren’t married and would like to find the right partner, you probably already know that technology can help with that! And you wouldn’t be alone by a long-shot if you decided to give online dating a try. Between 2015 and 2019, nearly a third (32%) of romantic relationships in the UK started online. In the US, the figure is even higher (39%), according to research by Stanford University.
17 – Upgrade your Job
This one seems vastly unfair, but according to worldwide census data, how much you earn has a very big impact on longevity. Globally, with each rise in classification (low income to lower middle to middle, etc), you gain 3-7 years in average lifespan. So whilst someone belonging to the low income classification at birth has a life expectancy of just 62 years, their counterpart born into the high income class will live on average to 81, or 19 years longer!
The difference may be less pronounced in the most developed countries, but it is still shockingly high. For example, according to UK Government statistics, life expectancy at birth for males in the professional group was 7.4 years more than that for those in the unskilled manual groups. The gap between the social classes was smaller for women than for men, at 5.7 years.
So should we just accept our place and that of our offspring? Heck, no! Here’s where technology can really be instrumental. It used to be that you had to choose between a paying job or school/unpaid training. Although it requires a lot of effort, you can improve your skills with online training without giving up the job that pays the bills. And today even staying in the higher earning roles requires you to keep learning. There are a number of reputable sites providing online learning, including LinkedIn and Udemy.
16 – Eat More Fruit & Veg
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help control blood pressure and cholesterol, ward off heart disease and stroke, and prevent some types of cancer. And eating more of these and less refined food and sugar will definitely lift your daily mood. Technology can help in a number of ways. The Internet is an endless source for delicious recipes. Serious meal planning used to take hours each week, but now you can quickly search for recipes using seasonal vegetables and fruit you happen to have to hand. There are also loads of diet apps that give you the encouragement you may need to get more servings of and a wider variety of vegetables into your meals.
Want to compare what the experts say to your beliefs on what leads to a long and happy life? Subscribe here for the upcoming instalments in the countdown to the top 20 drivers for a long and happy life!