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18 Things You Should Learn by the Time You Turn 18

18 Things You Should Learn by the Time You Turn 18

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    By the time you turn 18 you realize that there is little you can do to predict or control a) bad weather and b) bad hair days. Here are 17 other things you’ll probably have realized by the time the 18th year of your life comes around. My 18th birthday is one month away and here are some of the things I have learned along the way…

    1. You realize that a smile is indeed a very powerful and contagious infection and that all of us benefit from catching it every now and then. By the end of 17, you’re thinking, if no one else wants to start this amazing virtuous circle of smiling that brightens up everyone’s day- too bad for them- I will begin, with my smile. (Even if you didn’t think about this by 17, you got it now. Smile!)

    2. You’ve realized by now that your favorite childhood novels, movies and music are forever going to be your fairy godmother and fond-memory-bank occupants. (How can I ever forget Harry Potter and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide?)

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    3. I’ll-pretend-like-I-don’t-know-you is a real phenomenon. People you said “Hi” to and who spoke so happily to you only yesterday may ignore your today like you’re a total stranger. In that case, 18 years of wisdom says, wave more to them more crazily and say a louder, ‘Hi!’, until they can’t pretend any longer to be straight-up strangers. (If they still want to ignore you, they’re just missing out on your awesomeness.)

    4. By 18 you realize that life is really, really short and unfortunately people you care about actually do die. This just gives you a million more reasons to say ‘I love you’ whenever and however you can. It is important to take on the practice of saying ‘Thank you’ for every moment you breathe and every second that you are able to love and live in this world.

    5. By the time you turn 18 you realize how important it is for you to turn 18 because you’re (more than mildly) frustrated with all the consent forms that you have to beg and plead your parents to sign before you’re permitted to do practically anything with your life.

    6. Heartbreak has happened, and sadly, will happen. But there’s nothing that a mint chocolate chip cookie ice-cream can’t fix right? (Wrong. By 18 you have to digest that there are some things that neither pralines nor mint chocolate chip can fix.) But then not everything in life needs be fixed, its okay that some things are imperfect. Leave the unfixable pieces behind, and move on.

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    7. By now you have realized that humans aren’t as smart as we like to think. Though science and religion give us many explanations, neither legendary geniuses nor anyone else have been able to answer the actually important and totally confounding questions that dictate the world around us. These questions include: What happens after death? Why are we here? Why is there evil in the world? By now we’ve figured out how most adults handle these defeating questions: by pretending they don’t exist. Now comes our own turn to decide how we’re going to handle them.

    8. If turning 18 (like me) and STILL haven’t gone out on a real date (like me) you might slightly despair (like me). Well, you’ll also realize you shouldn’t. By 18, you realize that 18 is not the end of the world (hopefully); you got your whole life ahead of you, for more awesomeness, for true love, and for everything else.

    9. If you want to feel loved, you’ve got to first believe that you are worthy of love and happiness. And by 18, you should have realized: You are worthy!

    10. It is tiring and totally not worth it to pretend to be someone you’re not. By the time you turn 18 you realize that life is hard, and sometimes intimidating, but if you just be yourself, you can handle it so much better and more easily. (Then of course,  “just being yourself” does take a lot of courage)

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    11. Reaching out for help can be a difficult thing, but it isn’t wrong, and man, it does help tremendously. By 18, you might begin to realize that vulnerability is actually a beautiful thing and there’s nothing wrong in feeling insecure. You can make some of the best connections with others by reaching out for help when you need it.

    12. By 18 you realize that success need not be just measured through the common standards of fame, money, power and popularity. You realize that there’s more to life, like enjoyment, like screaming at the top of your lungs in an open ground at 4 am, like baking cookies for a midnight breakfast, like speaking to your absolutely cute crush for the first time, like laughing awkwardly with your best friends. All of this counts as success too!

    13. By 18 you understand that your drawbacks, awkwardness, and insecurities are completely normal and that everyone feels the same way. These characteristics make you the uniquely amazing person you are. You learn to embrace both your light and dark and be equally proud of them both. (Or at least try to begin on that incredible journey of self-love).

    14. You are kind of missing your childhood, slightly apprehensive about taking the responsibilities of an adult, and sort of nostalgic about end of school days. Remember all the days spent learning to ride the bike and playing teacher to imaginary students? (Well, I still play imaginary teacher…but that would be for another article)

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    15. You know by now that there are some mean people in the world, or some who love bathing in negativity and pulling you down in that unproductive spiral of gossip and sulking. Of course these are fundamentally amazing people, so try to show them light if you can. If the task defeats you, shake off the cynicism and import your own sunshine into the world. That’s the simple recipe to make life happier for everyone.

    16. You’ve realized that nobody ain’t goin’ anywhere if they are not ready to work hard. The odds of a person winning a lottery is pretty close to zero and by 18 you know how challenging yet totally possible it is to reach your dreams. Seventeen years of Earth has taught you life is no easy business; till now your parents may have sweated it out so that you could live well and now its your turn to take to the hard work and live all your dreams.

    17. And finally, through all this accumulated wisdom, you might realize how difficult it is to practically implement things we know too well in theory and in our thoughts. What sounds great in theory is tough to gain the courage or wisdom to get going…from asking someone out to starting a small online business, taking the first step can sometimes be the most difficult.

    But that’s the real challenge of life, right? To act on the wisdom and thoughts whose implementation terrifies us… or at least to try.

    Featured photo credit: just1snap via flickr.com

    More by this author

    18 Things You Should Learn by the Time You Turn 18 10 Forgotten Truths About Happiness 10 Ways To Go From Being A Good Leader To A Great Leader 11 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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