Bob Hope, the comedian, is said to have booked a venue for his 100th birthday. Not for a party, but for a gig. He was sure he would continue performing into his second century. In the end the gig did not go ahead, but he did see his second hundred, passing away two months after his birthday.
He was still doing television specials into his nineties.
Barack Obama wrote a book The Audacity of Hope. Bob lived that phrase. But how?
According to Bob himself, the secret of his longevity – and good health up to very near the end – was that he took some time out every week to pamper himself. He treated himself to a full body massage every week, without fail. For decades. Presumably he afforded his wife Dolores the same luxury. And she lived to 102.
There is a lesson here. We are at the start of the year, and people use this time to make changes in their lives. Everyone loves their New Year resolutions. The only problem is that they are New Year resolutions – they don’t last into the second week of January. Instead we should focus on all-year resolutions, positive changes we will make in our lives that will last, and leave us in a better position at the end of the year than we were at the start.
The only resolutions that will do this for us are those that involve changes to our lifestyle. A change to our diet, a new exercise program, something that de-stresses us. Bob Hope’s massage was an hour each week when he switched off completely, allowed all his muscles to relax, and shrugged off stress.
On the surface they look like completely different therapies. A massage involves a therapist pulling, pounding and kneading your muscles and joints, while a float talk involves – well, floating. In solitude and peace. But despite their stark physical differences, both treatments trigger the same relaxation responses in our bodies.
Both will allow the body to relax deeply, which calms the mind. By letting our nervous system power down, cortisol levels in our bodies decline. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and when we purge it from our systems, we feel calmer and better able to cope with the trials of life. And we give a boost to the regeneration processes in our bodies while boosting our antioxidants.
We think nothing of having our car serviced regularly. We run programmes on our computers to clean up disk space and banish viruses. We have our chimneys swept every year. We do these things because they prolong the life of our stuff.
It might not be practical to do a Bob Hope on it and float every week. But most of us could manage once a month. Think about the implications of that – once every month there are a few hours we devote entirely to ourselves. A few hours where we take time out to retreat and pamper ourselves. A few hours where the stresses and strains of life are left behind, and we focus on our own health and mental wellbeing.
Is that truly the secret of a long life? Yes, because there’s more – the magnesium in the epsom salts that keep you afloat is absorbed through the skin, and is essential for the production of glutathione within the cells. And glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant of them all. Antioxidants slow down the ageing of cells, and keep us looking and feeling (and functioning) younger.
Many scientific studies have shown that those who practise deep relaxation techniques such as meditation – and floatation definitely counts as deep relaxation – produce up to 40% more glutathione. The magnesium absorption makes this automatic in the tank.
So yes, you can emulate Bob Hope, pamper yourself on a regular basis, and live a long and healthy life. You just need to commit to making pampering a part of your life, as automatic as bringing your car in for its regular service. And it’s enjoyable.
Why was this blog not posted on New Year’s Eve? Because it is not about New Year’s Resolutions. It is about All Year Resolutions. We don’t want you to read this and move on, forgetting it a week later. We want you to make an actual change in your lifestyle, one you will still be feeling the benefit of next December. And in thirty years time.
Dean Carson is a Cork writer specialising in true crime, and in action thrillers. His Family Feud was a bestseller, and the most shoplifted book in Ireland. He latest thriller series comes out in October. He also works as a comedian and entertainer.