How to Prepare for Death

Early to Rise printed this article by James Altucher today.  I found it interesting.  I should probably work on the friend suggestion.

How to Prepare for Death

By James Altucher

The oldest living person ever was Jeanne Clement, who died in 1997. She was 122 years old. That means just 15 years ago there was a person alive who actually met Vincent Van Gogh. The thing about living long has nothing to do with medicine. This is basically the entire flaw of medicine. Most drugs cover symptoms, or even get rid of symptoms, but don’t cure the underlying causes. When people asked Jeanne Clement how she lived so long, she never once gave “modern medicine” as the answer.

For one thing, we know that having good genes is good for longevity. But genes can be overcome in a variety of ways. I’ve spent the past ten years studying the lives of people who live past 100. Doctors should be forced to do this study. When we’re young, we often prepare for a good life. We’re ambitious and hungry and we want to succeed. But at a certain point, you want to start preparing for a good death. This doesn’t mean death TOMORROW, it means that your life should be pleasant enough that death is far, far away. That, to me, is a good death. Clement rode her bicycle until she was 100 despite not being very athletic. She lived on her own until she was 110 when she finally moved into a nursing home.

So what was her secret?

  • She had a diet rich in olive oil (the Mediterranean diet)
  • She laughed a lot (the average child laughs 300 times a day. The average adult…5 times a day Make sure you err on the side of youth and try to laugh as much as possible.)
  • She had friends. Friendship turns out to be the single most important factor in longevity. Always have someone you can tell your troubles to.
  • I hate to say it, but keep a low carb diet. I love pasta. I can eat it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But every research shows it’s probably not good for you. Which kills me. But I’d rather it kill me metaphorically than in real life.
  • Always be active. Retirement is a myth of the Factory Age where you get a gold watch after 50 years of service and then die a year later. Keep active doing things you enjoy and being around people you love.
  • Learn how to forgive. The weight of anger will bring you down to the earth and below.

What did Jeanne Clement have to say about Vincent Van Gogh, who would buy canvas at her father’s general store? He was “Dirty. Disagreeable. And badly depressed.” Not a good combination if you want to make friends. As Warren Buffett said at the Berkshire Hathaway conference that I attended: if you want people to love you, you have to be loveable.