Dr John Smith

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I doubt whether you have heard of him, to my shame I certainly had not.

Lester Breslow, an American doctor, died in April. In 1965 he conducted a survey of what is known as “Breslow’s Seven Healthy Habits”, findings that were so striking he thought colleagues were playing some sort of prank on him. And what are these seven habits? Moderate alcohol consumption, no tobacco smoking, regular exercise, seven to eight hours of sleep daily, regular meals with no snacking, maintenance of moderate body weight and regular consumption of breakfast.

And what are the benefits? Breslow’s research proved scientifically for the first time that people with most of these habits lived healthier lives than those with few of them. One quick example, life expectancy of a 45-year-old man with at least six habits was 11 years longer than a similar aged man with only three.

I would like to add some other habits which even if they don’t make us healthier will increase our sense of wellbeing. Say thank you, praise people when they do well and tell them why (because that is how we learn), say sorry and mean it, be prepared to forgive, listen to one another, and care about others and show that you care.

To be thanked makes you feel good, as does being praised. When someone says sorry to us we learn to say it to others. To seek and give forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but what a difference it can make. In our noisy world it is hard to listen but when we listen to one another, we are showing respect and we are saying this is important and you are important.

And when we do all of these surely we are showing that we care and what a difference that would make to all our lives, what a smile that would bring to our faces, perhaps the kindest and most generous habit of all.