Saturday, February 10, 2007

We're Living Longer, But Not Better

You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.
- H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

Since Mencken's time medical science has learned how to extend even the length of a person's life. Yet despite all these possibilities to expand and enhance their lives, not many people go out of their way to do it. The ones who do tend to believe that everyone does. However, the evidence does not support this conclusion.

While we tend to live longer than the generations before us, that is more often because medical science has found ways to keep us from dying than because we as individuals have taken the proper measures to live longer.

The depth and width of life of many people aren't receiving much attention either. With television and the internet serving as forms of entertainment now, more and more people use them for that purpose rather than to make their lives better, richer, fuller. While many people use TV and the internet as rich resources of knowledge, they become time wasters for those who simply want to waste theirs.

Other people believe that their lives will be better if they spend money--on furniture, home, vehicle, addictive or illegal passtimes, entertainment, whatever money can be spent on that they have seen advertised or that they have heard about.

Expanding the depth and width of our lives is not about spending money, but about investing time and energy. We grow by doing, not be watching, by making not be being made.

Our brains and bodies are constructed to work, to exercise, to stretch and work their way around problems and projects that we have not overcome before. They atrophy when they are not exercised regularly.

Growing old to a more advanced age than our ancestors is not such a great thing when living longer means suffering from senility and a creaking body for more years than they did. Joining fellow patients lining the walls of nursing homes for years at a time just to catch a glimpse of someone doing something different is not an enhanced old age.

We need to teach these lessons to children and adolescents before they lose their desire to stretch their minds and bodies to continually become more than they are.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make our older generations into wiser and healthier seniors.
Learn more at

No comments: