Your Guide to Living Forever
A number of recent research studies suggest that scientists are getting closer to extending human life, or eliminating aging altogether. Most recently, a study (using mice) suggested that transfusions of young blood could prevent aging.
This begs the question; how will you handle eternal life once it becomes a scientific reality? Will you spiral into a narcissistic rage and self-destruct à la Dorian Gray? Or will you transform your miserable self into a much better person like Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in Groundhog Day?
Speaking not from personal experience (unfortunately), below are four tips for a successful immortality:
1 – Build Close Connections
When Lestat — famed antihero in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles — was a fledgling, we was advised by his mentor (Marius) to find himself a family. He created Louis and Claudia, and together they lived happily for about 30 years … until they both tried to murder him.
While things didn’t go great for Lestat, he was on the right track. We are happier and healthier when we build close connections with others. Being in community fosters a sense of identity, and a sense that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
There are other goodies too, like:
- The opportunity to love and be loved
- Mutual understanding and caring
- Diversity of ideas/influences to help us grow and learn
- A source of help during hard times and trouble
- Celebration of good times
- More fun
2 – Change With The World
Do you know anyone who resists keeping up with the world, and instead clings to eras past? One family recently tried to live like it was 1986, but gave it up after they realized it was impossible to fit into society. If your life is spanning hundreds or thousands of years, multiply these troubles exponentially. Immortal or not, personal flexibility and change is healthy. Instead of reminiscing about the old times or the way things were, make new memories.
In the same way, it’s no good holding onto the missteps and errors we’ve made along our journey. A warning to all immortals, the baggage only gets heavier as we go. Put the baggage down.
Remember, change can be scary:
3 – Find purpose. Make it a big one.
If you don’t age, time is no longer your most valuable asset; it’s your cheapest commodity. So, take a moon-shot that’ll motivate you for years to come. In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s — I mean Phil Connor’s — purpose was initially to win over Rita, but at some point he switched his focus to helping others and becoming a better human being. Your new purpose could be to eliminate world poverty…or you could just build an absolutely insane island utopia.
4 – Practice Freedom
Too many of us live in our own secret prison:
- We’re afraid to take social chances — so we stay isolated
- We’re afraid of failure — so we either refuse to make an effort, or overcompensate and become workaholics
- We feel too guilty to ask for or take what we want from life — so we don’t live the life we want
If you have eternal life, perhaps it’s time to finally give yourself the chance to live a life of freedom. As Ben Zander writes about society in The Art of Possibility, “It’s all invented!” When you feel trapped, ask to yourself, “What assumptions am I making, that I’m not aware I’m making, that gives me what I see? What might I now invent, that I haven’t yet invented, that would give me other choices?”
Whether you live 50 years, or 500, you have one life. Live it well, because there are no do-overs.
Dr. Anthony Centore is Founder and CEO of Thriveworks, and a licensed counselor in Massachusetts and Virginia. Learn more at Thriveworks.com.