Take the following test, ask the pregnant women around you what they want for their children. I venture to predict that in most cases they will respond: “may he be happy.” Almost certainly none will answer “may they have a long life.”
“But wasn’t this a website about longevity and its promotion?” You may be wondering right now. Don’t get ahead of yourself, I have good news for you: if you have a happy life, you are more likely to have a long life. A review of hundreds of scientific studies carried out by the Gallup research group in Princeton (USA) confirms that individuals who consider themselves happy live longer and in better health.
And in this matter of happiness, in addition to the science that shows us dopamine and serotonin, the philosophies that have been emerging for centuries have a lot to contribute to us. The quest for longevity has intrigued philosophers throughout time, who have sown the seeds of wisdom on their journey toward a full and lasting life. In this fascinating garden of ideas, philosophical perspectives bloom like beautiful flowers, offering timeless advice for those seeking the secret to a long and meaningful existence. Here I present some of them (there are many more) explained in a superficial way so that, if one is of interest to you, you can autonomously go to the sources and delve into the depth of your thinking.
In the quiet corner of Epicurus (4th century BC), we learn to dance with moderation. Pleasure, he maintains, is found in harmony and in the essence of enjoying moderate pleasures. A balanced life, far from extremes, becomes fertile ground for longevity. In this garden, delight is a symphony, and moderation its conductor.
Some time later, the ideas of Michel de Montaigne (16th century) tell us about the joy found in balance. Through moderation and self-understanding, the path to a fulfilled life unfolds. In this corner of the garden, serenity blooms like a treasure, illuminating the path to longevity.
Entering the contemporary era, in the brightest section of the garden, the ideas of Viktor Frankl (20th century) shine. The search for meaning in our lives, he suggests, is the driving force behind a fulfilled life. By embracing a meaningful purpose, you pave the way to emotional and spiritual longevity.
Also in the 20th century, Bertrand Russell explored the connection between interesting occupation, healthy social relationships, and an active mind in his work The Conquest of Happiness. His reflections contribute to the debate on quality of life and the search for a full existence, which can be linked to longevity.
Simone de Beauvoir (20th century), existentialist and feminist philosopher, advocated authenticity and autonomy in decision-making, suggesting living in the present and maintaining authentic relationships. The search for meaning in life and the ability to adapt to change were central aspects of his philosophy. Integrating these principles into everyday life could contribute to a richer existence and, potentially, greater longevity.
In this garden of wisdom, philosophical advice becomes the leaves that guide the path to longevity. So you know, if one day you go to a talk about longevity, after listening to doctors and nutritionists, I recommend that you ask for a philosopher. Thus, in addition to a long life, they will be able to learn to fulfill the wishes that their mothers had when they were still in their womb: “to be happy.”
José Manuel Domínguez de la Fuente (@domindela)