It’s not that difficult to live longer. First you have to want to. Many depressed people don’t, for a lot of good or not-so-good reasons.

When I took classes to learn Dialectical Behavior Therapy to cure depression and a bipolar condition, I met a man who I’ll call Tom. He had such low self-esteem he complained he would always be a failure and worth nothing, despite his loving wife and children. Finally, after much urging during the course of the classes, he started giving Uber rides. Just being around people—and being useful to them—changed his outlook in a matter of weeks.

Many faceless people give up hope, whether over their physical or mental condition or unsuccessful attempts gaining employment. To combat this, housing, food, transportation and job training are key, and should be a function of social services, education departments and governments everywhere.

Sickly people, whether with physical or mental illnesses, often bemoan their condition, regaling others with their trials and tribulations. They may close themselves off to any advice urging them to change self-destructive habits. Even worse, the chronically or clinically depressed forget how to be happy.

Suicidal people have given up hope for their own soul to stay in this life and survive whatever troubles they experience. Mental disorders, also numbering in the hundreds, add to that feeling, temporarily or chronically. Those mental tests may be the worst, because of their insidious nature. They can sneak up on us and become ingrained habits if we aren’t alert to their tentacles, such as negative thinking.

When we have no one rooting for us, no family, loved ones, caregivers or social services to support us, we can’t help getting depressed and sad, giving up on ourselves and others.

That’s why the first way to extend life is to make friends and open ourselves to loving, sharing and caring. Primarily we do this with our parents and siblings as we grow up, then relatives, schoolmates and teachers, clergy, and peer groups, then co-workers and the larger world. Statistics show that developing close and meaningful relationships, and finding a spouse at some point, are the primary ways to extend our own well-being and longevity. Simply, happy people live longer and more productive lives. Those who love others—and who are loved in return—will extend their lifespan and make it better, too.

In an American National Health Survey, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, the death rate for people who were unmarried was significantly higher than it was for those who were married and living with their spouses. Although the effect was significant for all categories of unmarried, it was strongest for those who had never married.

The second way to extend our lives is to open up to our loved ones who care for us, and that includes our spiritual community. It never hurts to sincerely ask others how they’re doing, or tell a friend what we’re feeling. Unless we ask or tell someone no help will come, because as sad as we might be, no one can read our minds and intuit what we need.

The Baha’i teachings reassure humanity that our Creator has chosen not to leave us alone, floundering and friendless. Instead, Baha’is believe that God is close by, always there for every one of us. In the words of Baha’u’llah, the teachings of the prophets of God are “choice Wine,” whose purpose is not just to bring a set of laws, but to intoxicate us with love of God and facilitate our spiritual progress:

Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight! – Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 21.

That “choice Wine” refers not to actual wine, but to the metaphorical wine of spiritual intoxication and ecstasy. This symbolic wine, mentioned in the Bible, the Qur’an and even in the ancient Hindu traditions, symbolizes the revelation of previously unknown spiritual truths that allow us to “discern the splendours of the light of divine unity.” – Ibid., p. 166.

If you’d like to live longer, don’t use alcohol—it’s a central nervous system depressant. Instead, try the choice wine of God’s newest revelation, the beautiful, intoxicating teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

6 Comments

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  • Aug 07, 2017
    Fukuzawa Yukichi "It goes without saying that the maintenance of peace and security in society requires a religion. For this purpose any religion will do. I lack a religious nature, and have never believed in any religion. I am thus open to the charge that I am advising others to be religious while I am not so. Yet my conscience does not permit me to clothe myself with religion when I have it not at heart...Of religions there are several kinds – Buddhism, Christianity, and what not. From my standpoint there is no more difference between those than between green ...tea and black...See that the stock is well selected and the prices cheap". Japan does have one of the highest life expectancies. Plus, I'm a tea fan who loves the metaphor.
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    • 17 hours ago
      A quote is a quote, but not a full endorsement of everything said in a quote. I was using the tea is religion metaphor since the article used the wine is revelation metaphor. Humanity, like all sentient beings, are guided by the Universal Life Force Spirit, ULFS for short. The ULFS creates the tea of religion like the black ("red" in East Asian languages as this is how it looks like when in glass) tea of Christinaity and green tea of Buddhism. The maintained of good things in society like liberty, peace, prosperity, life, property, the pursuit of happiness, equality, ...solidarity, harmony, unity, diversity, and any other word from a three word motto I can't remember. Bodhisattvas of the Earth, human revolution, etc are involved.
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    • 19 hours ago
      Konichiwa Boykin-San, the quote was from the Religion in Japan Wikipedia article. I care about peace (as well as liberty and prosperity) of which religion can serve to maintain in society. Cutting out the "I lack a religious nature... To the... I have it not at heart" part would more accurately reflect myself if it were my quote, but it shows the relationship Fukuzawa-San has with religion also and my dislike of butchering quotes. My tastes for both green tea and Buddhism weren't stated for lack of room. Black tea and Christianity etc are good too. (The quote deals with ...traditional forms of Buddhism and Christianity, but I like the non-traditional school of Nichiren Buddhism known as the Soka Gakkai International.)
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    • Don Boykin
      1 day ago
      Konichi wa Fukuzawa san, Gray san, When you awake tomorrow in God's morn guard your ego from casting a shadow to block another person's son. What I discern in your statement is that you cannot accept religion in its current manner in which it is manifested by its stated adherents. Check out Baha'u'llah's Writings and become surprisingly and delightfully enlightened. I lived for 1-1/2 years in Japan, loved, then and now, the tea, the people's creativity and culture. We are embarking on bringing into reality a world culture, the likes of which have only been dreamed of during former ...times but now is the time and it is coming about through individuals delving into Baha'ullah's Revelation. The past just a beginning for what is to happen now.
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  • Melanie Black
    Aug 05, 2017
    This is good advice for regular people, but I'd like to point out that there are many mental disorders that have both genetic and organic causes such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We must be very careful not to take an attitude of blaming the patient for his or her ailments. A holistic approach to dealing with mental illness, I believe, takes into account not only the socioeconomic status of a person, but their personal, medical history, family history, and any useful therapies including the one you mentioned as well as medicine and (what is little utilized yet) spiritual counseling. ...I also think diet and exercise may also play a part. Thank you.
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    • Aug 06, 2017
      True, it is not a blame game for whatever ails us or why, neither is it acceptable to give in to unmitigated despair and worse case, take our life. The key is to hold onto the belief that we retain some power over our condition through how we deal with it, and the source of true positivity comes from God.
      I agree also that general statements don't work for all cases, there are exceptions. But to the degree that we don't give up trying to understand God's will and purpose, will be the degree to which we arrive ...at peace with our condition, even if unchangeable.
      We can also ask God for universal access to adequate health and mental care (for humanity needs both bread and spirit to live), and working toward that goal will ease much suffering.
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