Graceful aging and longer life depends on many factors and you can control some of them

Suhasini is smiling. A person she barely knows has just told her that she looks too young to have such grown up children. The compliment fills her with a warm glow. At 47, what is Suhasini's secret? Good genes, good luck or good choices? Graceful aging is a combination of all these. Suhasini has a good self-image and strives to make herself look and feel good. She is aware of all the right choices she must make to maintain her looks and health. She knows that graceful aging and living longer depends on many factors and that she can control some of them. Make laughter your friendLaughter makes the face radiant in a way that no expensive skin cream can. Laughter also releases endorphins which are mood elevators. There is no doubt that people who are cheerful and see the funny side of things live longer and more importantly, live healthier. People who are positive and happy also have the power to spread joy around. Chronically depressed and cranky people have more minor ailments and have a greater propensity for major illnesses. So smile your way through life. Pamper yourselfCulturally, Indian women tend to let themselves go after they are married and have had children. It is important to pay attention to the way you look- it is good for your self-image and boosts your confidence. Make sure you moisturize your face daily. Get a beauty routine that you follow regularly. Invest in a weighing machine The best investment you can make for your health is buying a weighing machine. Being thinner matters, because increased waist fat can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Excess fat also raises the risk of some cancers. If you were a healthy weight at 20, try to maintain your weight at no more than 5 kilos above that for the rest of your life. Cut those calories Thinner people appear younger than overweight ones. There was a good reason that our elders promulgated the concept of fasting on certain days. In a recent study, the hearts of people who consumed fewer calories appeared 10 to 15 years younger than those of heavy eaters. Of course, it is wrong to fast continuously but you can substitute a salad or fruits for one meal. Raw vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants which will make your skin glow. Walk your way to health Just walk briskly for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. With age, blood vessel walls tend to stiffen up and lose their elasticity. Exercise keeps vessels pliable. Mild exercise also reduces the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and aging of the skin. Get rid of painStudies suggest that continuous pain may dampen the immune system. There is also enough evidence that chronic pain can cause deep depression. A combination of proper exercise and medications should help get rid of the pain. Reduction or complete alleviation of the pain can be a great mood elevator. Argue lessNasty arguments between couples increase the risk of heart disease. A recent study has shown that women's hearts suffered when they made or heard hostile comments. Men's hearts reacted badly to domineering, controlling words. It is normal for spouses to have fights. Remember though that sarcastic, personal and nasty comments cause lasting damage. Use humour to defuse the situation. Do a good deedThe best way to be healthy is to be kind to others. Giving more than you receive is the key to great mental and emotional fulfilment. The giving does not always have to be in the form of money; it can also be in the form of food, advice or time. Philanthropy, without expectation of gratitude, is a reward in itself. Studies have shown that altruistic people live longer and healthier. Sing away those bluesExposing yourself to music might help boost your immune system. Music has therapeutic properties. Music in the workplace has been shown to be a mood elevator and increases productivity. Musicians, as a group, live longer. So make music an integral part of your life. Look for beauty everywhereOne of the drawbacks of the century we live in is the harried pace of life. There seems to be no time to stop and smell the roses. Look for it and you will see that there is always beauty to be found. It may be in the green of new leaves or the way the sun slants down at daybreak. Surround yourself with beauty- it will shield your soul. Having a passion, a purpose, and a positive outlook, with a strong sprinkling of humour, is a winning combination that leaves you looking and feeling younger. GITA ARJUN