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The good life

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Every generation has desired "the good life" and longevity. Since the beginning of time man has imagined and sought for the fountain of youth. Not an actual fountain, but an herb, a root, a tea, a lotion or a hormone that extends life or at least postpones the effects of aging. But, who wants longevity of life without the connection of the good days attached to it?

I Peter 3:10-11 says good days are the result of the words we speak, how we treat people and the choices we make. Peter said, "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it" (ESV). That is more than a mouthful, but it's clearly a recipe for a better life, if not a healthier life.

The good life is not comprised in the neighborhood we live in, the car we drive or even the job we have. In every survey I read on what most people want out of life, the overwhelming consensus is peace and happiness. Those things start in the heart. My belief is that peace and happiness come from a relationship with God and knowing he loves you. Even then, I don't believe a person can be truly happy unless they have healthy relationships with people around them. Research has determined the well-established fact that social people are happier and healthier. On average, they live longer and enjoy life more.

Jesus himself said the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, and your strength and the second commandment is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself. To me that equates to relationships that are meaningful. People caring about people. Not taking the opportunity to say something negative about another just because the opportunity arises. It means, bridling our tongues. In the Bible, James says the tongue "sets on fire the entire course of life, and is set on fire by hell" (James 3:2 ESV).

We are not getting any younger. Who knows how long we will live? None of us know, but one thing is certain: we should live our lives well. Experts are telling us that the future is here: we will live longer and longer. We may even live to be 100 or more, but what good will that do us without peace and health?

Getting older is interesting, but it holds many challenges. As I write this, a 79-year-old family member is bed-ridden and suffers from dementia. On the other hand, on this very day, my sister-in-law said her 94-year-old mother tore off the wallpaper in her hallway and just finished painting the walls and baseboards all by herself. Genes most definitely play a role in the lives of the two women, but so does attitude, a healthy diet, a spiritual relationship and exercise. I can say that because I know the lives of these two women.

The good life does not mean a life without problems, because in the very same chapter Peter said we will suffer and have trials in this life, but not to be afraid or fearful. Both women, though aging very different, have had trials. The first is a 30-year survivor of a heart attack, the other is a 50-year survivor of cancer.

Everything in the universe ages though in different ways. It is the way of life. The natural order of things. When Peter advises us to "keep our tongue from evil and our lips from speaking deceit; turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it", then maybe he's shining a little light on the concept of aging well.

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