Soon it will all be gone; all the edicts issued by our parents and grandparents. The world will be so topsy-turvy that we will have to try and remember everything the elders told us—and do just the opposite. Because the world has changed, and so must we. Here are some easy pointers.
For decades, remember, we were warned against gorging on butter, eggs, red meat, shellfish, because they contained cholesterol that would give us heart disease and strokes. This summer, science revealed that only 20 per cent of the cholesterol level in our blood actually comes from the food we eat; most of it is produced by the liver to satisfy the body’s needs. Adding insult to injury, it said high blood cholesterol may not even cause coronary heart disease. In elderly people, in fact, the lower the blood cholesterol, the greater their risk of death. So the next time you’re eating out, feel free to order the cheeseburger.
It’s not just your food habits that must be modified; the way you conduct yourself must change too.
You need to start by fidgeting. Remember the reprimands or, worse, raps you got from teachers and parents for being unable to sit still. They felt it was rude and showed lack of focus. Turns out it was the best thing you could have done. New research suggests that the movements involved in fidgeting counteract the adverse health impact of sitting for long periods; that people who “fidget only occasionally” have a higher risk of mortality than those with ants in their pants. Doctors have been espousing the cause of walking around for a while now, linking it to a healthier BMI (body mass index) and lower risk of diabetes. But the virtues of twitching are a first. Twerking for fitness may still be a while away, but the world appears to be ready for Fidget Jones Diary.
The next new commandment is linked to napping. Ignore anyone who tells you not to waste away your life in bed. Instead, snuggle a little deeper down in the sheets and go to sleep—every chance you get. A new study by Michigan State University says there is substantial evidence that during sleep, your brain is processing information without your awareness and this ability may contribute to memory in a waking state. In other words, you are learning while you’re sleeping. (What you’re learning is a different matter.)
Last, when you encounter a problem, do try and worry—hard. This not only prepares you for the worst, it also helps you think up innovative ways to deal with your troubles. Anyone who has struggled with a ball of tangled wool knows that if you keep at it, sooner or later, you’ll unravel it. It’s much the same with worrying. Keep attacking a problem from all directions, and you will figure out a way to make it go away. One caveat: make the worrying effective, not frequent. Scientists say our ancestors did it too, as they crept ape-like through the jungle—worrying about impending doom and how to defeat it. Those who didn’t apparently have left behind no descendants.