Living hygienically means nurturing conditions that promote health, either to prevent disease or to cure the root of the disease.

Typical Western medicine is not, in my opinion, hygienic.  It does not prevent disease nor even cure its causes; it treats the “symptoms”, i.e. “manifestations” only.

Taking aspirin for a headache, for instance, does not cure the causes of the headache; you are not having a headache because you are aspirin deficient.

This solution removes the headache but not the problem that caused the headache in the first place.  If any “curing” is going on in such a situation it is the body curing itself.

Thus, the conditions that enable the body to treat itself have to be created — that is called hygienic living.

The basic principles of hygienic living are: sleep, exercise and diet.

I have been thinking that we are back to PAEI again.

Exercise will be (P), diet (A) and sleep (I).

How did I come to this classification?

Exercise deals with the body’s functions. Thus it is most like a (P) function, a “doer”.  For diet, you have to control what you eat, and control is (A).  During sleep the body integrates, relaxes and rejuvenates, which is an (I) process.

I realize this classification is very subjective and might even look arbitrary, but it serves my purpose that what is missing in hygienic living, I think is: PURPOSE, the (E).

To live hygienically one has to also have a purpose in life. Victor Frankl has made this point well in his book Man’s Search for Meaning.  He found that the people who survived the extermination camps in which he was a prisoner were people who had a meaning in their life, had a reason to live.

We also know from the many annals of medical studies – and experience as well — that people who have a purpose to live out, a future life on earth that they still envision, survive fatal diseases better than those who give up and feel that there is no more use for them and no reason to live.

For hygienic living, a way of living that prolongs life and decreases the chances of self-inflicted diseases and maladies — I am not referring here to car accidents or breaking of bones – the body must be allowed to self-heal and re-integrate itself.  We as humans need deep sleep that follows the body’s natural rhythms, which means no alarm clocks.  The body needs to go to sleep when it is tired and wake up when it is ready.  The sleep also has to be without interferences: no noise, light or TV programs, and with good ventilation and a moderate, cool temperature.

For exercise, there are three main areas of importance: aerobic conditioning, which works the heart muscle and allows blood to flow to the whole body; strength training, which works the heart in yet another manner, and increases the body’s ability to perform aerobic exercise; and last but not least, flexibility and balance, which are especially important the more one ages to maintain peak mobility and comfort.

As for diet, there are as many recommended diets as there are diet gurus. I am convinced that the right diet for me is a very strict vegan one.  This means no dairy, no meat — basically nothing that came from an animal with the added conditions of no sugar, salt or fat.

As I said above, however, hygienic sleep, exercise, and proper diet are not enough.  One needs to have a mission in life, a purpose. Without it we age rapidly, we lose energy, and we lose the desire to live. It is this spirit, drive, or (E) that gives PA and I a purpose to be.

Look what happens to people who retire but have not planned what to do with their lives in the aftermath.  Watch how fast their health deteriorates.

What is the purpose in life when one retires?  What is the mission? How does one define it?

As one ages it looks more and more difficult to define a mission because making money and sustaining a career is no longer a purpose. It is old hat.  Raising a family?  More old hat. The kids are gone and independent now.

So what to do?

I’ve found in my consulting profession the answer which makes sense for corporations, but it is ALSO applicable to personal life. It is this:

Do not ask yourself why you live, and why you are on this planet and what is life all about?

These questions have no real answer because they have no real focus; they are too open-ended.

I know the word “why” in all languages.  Its synonym is very often “what for,” like in Spanish: porque – paraque.  In Slavic languages: za sto – zasto. In Hebrew: Lama –L’ma.

So, forget the “why” and ask yourself “what for?”  Answer your own question yourself.

Now, notice that every organ in our body exists to serve another part of the body. Only cancer serves no one but itself. Thus cancer serves death. To live, the parts have to serve the total or at least other parts of the system.

So substitute again the question “what for” with the question “for whom?

When you were building a career you knew for whom you lived: for the clients your career was serving so that your practice would grow.  When you were building a family you were living for each other and the children.

As you age, the career is over. The nest is empty. What now? You live for the grandchildren? I suggest you see them, enjoy them but if you live for them your kids will resent your interference.

So for whom?

To prolong your life, to live a healthy life, to have a purpose to live, find a cause you believe in with all your heart. Dedicate your life to it. Volunteer your time. Do not just sign a check and send it; that will not do it.  Give of your time.  Have a reason to get up in the morning.

When I consult to companies I ask them: “who will cry if you die, if the company goes bankrupt?”  That is for whom you live. And the same applies in personal life. When you retire, to prolong life, live hygienically — I recommend you live hygienically even before you retire — and find someone you care for, someone who needs you truly to be alive, and you will live longer.

I, for instance, hope never to retire. I might stop traveling and consulting. But I will not stop lecturing and writing. I will do my best to contribute, to give of myself. When I am not capable of doing so, when that happens, plan to visit me where I am…six feet under.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes