But what if we could take off some of that bubble wrap? What about living longer and actually having some fun? A Yale University study just this month found that in a group of 4,765 people with an average age of 72, those who carried a gene variant linked to dementia–but also had positive attitudes about aging–were 50% less likely to develop the disorder than people who carried the gene but faced aging with more pessimism or fear.
There may be something to be said then for aging less timidly–as a sort of happy contrarian, arguing when you feel like arguing, playing when you feel like playing. Maybe you want to pass up the quiet of the country for the churn of a city. Maybe you want to drink a little, eat a rich meal, have some sex.
“The most important advice we offer people about longevity is, ‘Throw away your lists,'” says Howard Friedman, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and co-author of The Longevity Project. “We live in a self-help society full of lists: ‘lose weight, hit the gym.’ So why aren’t we all healthy? People who live a long time can work hard and play hard.” Under the right circumstances, it increasingly seems, so could all of us.