The most commonly-used noun in the english language is “time.” This is because it’s the one thing that every single person is running out of.
I’d like to live forever. I’m not the only one. People are trying to figure out how to restore consciousness to dead brains. Good luck. People are trying to figure out how to upload their consciousness into the cloud. Let me know when they get it right.
Hugh Everett — the quantum physicist who gave us the delightfully disturbing many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics — he thought his theory demonstrated the immortality of consciousness. Or at least his own consciousness. Hugh Everett died in 1982.
We’ve been trying to live forever since forever. I am not feeling optimistic.
So maybe we can’t live forever.
But there are ways of extending life.
Here are a few. I don’t do all of them. Some of them might ruin your life. This is not advice.
ONE: Don’t watch TV.
The average American watches TV for 35 hours a week. That’s 20% of your time. It’s gone. You’ll never get it back. You might as well be dead for one out of five hours every day.
I don’t watch TV. Sometimes I tell people this. A lot of people say, incredulous, “What do you do all day?”
I live 20% longer.
TWO: Eat a better diet.
A friend of mine laughs at my diet. I eat a lot of vegetables. He eats a lot of pizza.
“You’re going to die anyway,” he says. “Why not enjoy your life?”
I did some math one time. I’m going to live 40% longer than he is, statistically speaking. But that’s not the point. Even if I knew we were going to die in a car wreck in the same exact moment, I would still eat a better diet. Because a better diet means a higher quality of life while I’m alive.
THREE: Don’t drink alcohol.
Or do drugs. These are things that distort the world. They make you less alive. If you feel like you need to dull your perception of the world to get through it, then you probably need to change your lifestyle. Seriously.
FOUR: Don’t go on dates.
Romance is better in your head.
You want romance in your life? Read a book. It’ll be better than real life. Real people waste your time and make you unhappy. Then you marry them. Then you have kids. Then you get divorced and your kids want money.
FIVE: Get married.
Statistically, married people live longer. If you haven’t cut TV out of your life yet, this gain will be irrelevant in the great black void of reality shows and 24-hour news cycles, but there you go.
Also, if you’re a man, marriage will make you happier. Men consistently report an increase in happiness after marriage as opposed to before.
Sorry, women. You’ll just have to settle with the longer life.
SIX: Get rid of all your stuff.
Especially if you owe money because you own stuff. Pare your life down. Move to a smaller house. Sell your extra electronics (especially your TV). Sell your extra cars.
People think the cost of living is getting higher. That’s not true. The trappings of living are getting more plentiful. Americans today have more cars, electronics and bedrooms than the Americans of the past. This isn’t a generation thing. Older people own more stuff than they used to.
Why will this make you live longer?
SIX B: Quit your job.
And spend less time working. You have less stuff now. You have fewer, smaller bills. So what do you need all that money for?
Your job takes up over 23% of your time. Almost a quarter. How much time can you save quitting your job or getting a less intensive one? A lot.
SEVEN: Play more games.
Preferably with other people.
“Wait,” you say. “But doesn’t time go by faster when you’re enjoying yourself? Won’t I die sooner?”
Well, not exactly.
When you recall your life, do you remember spending long hours in waiting rooms? No. But do you remember playing kickball with your friends as a child? Of course you do.
Good memories are peaks. Boring memories are troughs. As you skim back through the memories of your life, you naturally come to alight on the peaks. You have to really look for the troughs.
Having more peaks, more good moments, this will extend your life backwards. This is like a kind of time traveling device. When you’re at death’s door, and your life flashes before your eyes, do you want it to end in a split second? No. You want it to go on and on. You want to keep saying, “Hold on, Death, my life is still flashing before my eyes.”
You’re not going to say that if you spent your life moving from one beige room to another, looking up from your magazine occasionally just to see what they’re doing on TV.
You’re still going to die. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. But these things might help you live a little longer.