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  • BY TONYA DAVIS

Strategies for Healthy Living and Longevity

What would you say if I told you I could give you the keys to longevity of life? Sitting in the audience for my step-daughter’s graduation I was blown away by the speech of Dr. Clay Marsh. The Chancellor and Executive Dean for Health Sciences at West Virginia University imparted wisdom to aid us in gaining up to 15 years of additional life. Of course, as soon as I heard his topic he had my full attention. He was speaking my language. So I thought I would share what I learned and how it has impacted my life. Hopefully, you can take these tools and use them mindfully to live a longer and happier life.


Let’s begin with the first key:: Service to others….what is your purpose? A couple of years ago I decided to retire from a non-profit I had spent nine years building. I knew my purpose then. Helping students find their passion through career exploration, connecting students to businesses to learn career pathways, and helping teachers and parents support their students in making informed career decisions. Those decisions could then lead to happier and healthier lives for those students and their families.

Issues stemmed from the negative impact stress inflicted on my body. It was literally killing me. During peak programming times my blood pressure would shoot up to 155 over 95. I only knew pain and exhaustion yet I continued to push through each day. Having an autoimmune disorder had robbed me of the life I so deeply desired  because I could not keep up the pace of my life. After many tears and many conversations with my husband I finally figured out his biggest concern about me retiring. His biggest concern turned out to be that I would slowly deteriorate without pursuing my passion of helping others. However, I already had plans in place to keep pursuing that passion all the while taking care of my own health. I was not ready to stop being of service to others. I discovered my purpose is to support others to lead happier and healthier lives. It feeds my soul and I do so through Tik Tok lives, Linked In audio rooms and using the Owwll app to connect with others. 


What is the importance of having a purpose? Have you ever had a time in your life when you had no plan and felt like you were just floating helplessly along. Being pushed whichever way the wind took you. Maybe you felt untethered, out of balance. It’s not a great feeling.  Now remember how it felt to come up with a plan and a purpose behind it. A goal to work toward, if you will. Instead of feeling helpless and unsure you could seize hold of this idea and make something happen. Doesn't that feel much better? The key for me was finding a way to serve others and have purpose without damaging my health. What is your purpose? Think of things that bring you joy. Using your life experiences and knowledge can truly make a difference in someone’s life. Your compassion and caring has a ripple effect that can impact someone’s life forever. 


Instead of feeling helpless and unsure you could seize hold of this idea and make something happen.  Doesn't that feel much better?

The second key he revealed: Strengths of connections to other people. During the pandemic we saw the effects of isolation. Drug abuse and domestic violence saw a distinct rise. Granted, it is perfectly healthy to have alone time to recharge. Especially if you are an introvert. But it’s also important to know you’re not alone. When we have support through connections from others we fare so much better. I love having meaningful conversations with others and making an impact. Then if I’m having an issue I can also talk about it and work through it. If we feel alone we can feel that there is no hope. There is always hope. As long as you have breath in your body there is hope. 


How do you find connections with others? There are many ways and, again, finding what works for you is most important. Mine is social media. There is a downside to social media, however, I tend not to have those issues because I surround myself and interact with positive people. Some of the best friends I know have come from social media. I even got to meet a few dear social media friends when we went to Disney World last summer. We only had a day together but the joy and the hugs we had will forever live in my memory. 


It’s important to find like minded people. Honestly, I don’t have the energy to argue with someone about their viewpoints to try and change their mind. Can we have a lively discussion with differing viewpoints? Absolutely. I love conversations like that so I can learn things. Years of experience have taught me that I fare much better interacting with positive people who also want to make an impact. Phone calls or meetings to brainstorm and collaborate on projects lights me up. It’s a high vibrational frequency that feeds my soul. I pour into that when I can.


Do you have a hobby that you love? Seek out others who have the same hobby. Meet up and do whatever activity it is that brings you joy. Build a community. No matter what we are doing,  community is so important. That community helps you feel connected and not alone. When we feel alone we can often have the weight of the world on our shoulders with no way to see how it can get better. It can get better. I promise. The key is finding those people who will lift you up during those times.


The last key, but one of the most important is: Having an abundant mindset….having gratitude for what you have. We attract what we put out. If we are negative and unappreciative, that is what comes back to us. How we think directly affects our body. I know if I am negative or around negative people I feel worse. I feel depressed, tired, and unhappy. If I am coming from a place of scarcity (focusing on things I lack) I am frustrated and sometimes scared. The minute I switch my mindset and begin listing things I’m grateful for, things shift. 


Years of experience have taught me that I fare much better interacting with positive people who also want to make an impact.

Some days my list is short. The list may be gratitude for waking up, having breath in my lungs, and drinking water. On those days if I reflect back on my previous gratitude list it helps me remember there are good things in my life. Start a running list. Add a few things a day and you will be amazed how this will help you. What a wonderful feeling to see a list of wonderful things you are grateful for growing before your very eyes. On a bad day, look at that list and it will lift your spirits. 


Being mindful and practicing gratitude also builds the positive vibrations we want to attract. Notice that I’m referring to action….being (which in this case to me means doing) and practicing. Those are actions. We have to DO something for change to take effect. Work on creating a new habit of actively practicing gratitude and it can change your life. 


I would like to add my own tip for longevity of life as well: Using affirmations: An

affirmation is a phrase you say to yourself to help you shift your thinking from negative to positive. Will you believe the affirmation when you first begin using it? My guess would be no because if you believe it you wouldn’t need the affirmation in the first place. It may take time to start to believe it. The most successful affirmations are paired with decisions to support that affirmation. We can’t just say the affirmation and expect it to magically appear. While we are saying the affirmation to ourselves, it creates new neural pathways. To truly maximize the power of the affirmation, we must be making conscious decisions to help us manifest the affirmation. Saying the affirmation and supporting it increases the vibration of the phrase and attracts that same energy. 


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Strategies for Healthy Living and Longevity

For instance, if your affirmation is “I am worthy of love.” Yet, you continue to bombard yourself with negative thoughts like “You are unlovable” and “How could anyone love me???” Those negative thoughts thwart the manifestation of the affirmation. So in this instance, be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace and let me tell you that you ARE worthy. You deserve to love yourself and be loved by others. We all need support and when you can’t believe in your affirmation I will believe in it for you until you can. 


Also, visualizing the affirmation as if it is already happening increases the vibration and will help bring the affirmation into reality. When we visualize something again and again, the brain takes that as truth. Then we have changed those neural pathways and have rewired our thinking to believe the affirmation. Again, taking action is key.


Nothing changes if we stay stagnant. If we want to feel better we have to do something different. Take your time. Truly incorporate the changes into your life. It will be worth it.

In summary, there are many strategies we can utilize for healthier living and longevity of life. I would suggest starting with one of the previously mentioned keys and then build on your success from there. Trying to make too many changes at once can feel overwhelming. Integrate one tool into your life until it is just a part of your daily life. Then you can focus on adding another change. Take care and know that the world is a better place because you are in it. 


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Meet the expert:

Tonya has worked in health and wellness for approximately 25 years. Using her passion for supporting others in leading them on their road to prosperity is her purpose.


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