Ways to live long

Dr. Zeerak ‘Attari

Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ has filled the Earth with countless bounties and wonderous blessings, making life enjoyable. Despite the multitude of trials and tribulations that we may face, life tastes sweeter than honey. This is probably one of the reasons why we wish to live a long life. 

A long life does not necessarily mean ‘living for more years’ but ‘living more’ in how many ever years you have; it is a case of quality over quantity. A person suffering from long term physical or mental health problems that severely restrict normal daily life cannot have a fulfilling life even though he may live for hundreds of years.  

In this day and age, most of us associate quality of life with good health, secure finances, and esteem. This is a rather outdated and flawed notion. A holistic approach to good quality of life must incorporate the following:

1.   Physical health

2.   Mental health

3.   Spiritual health

These three dimensions are the very make-up of human life; enhancing the quality of all three will enhance the quality of life on every level. This is also known as the mind, body, and soul concept. In this article we will briefly learn how to have a good quality in these three domains so that we have a fulfilling life.  

Physical health

The human body is made of approximately 37 trillion cells which cannot be seen with the naked eye. These cells have different functions. Cells that perform similar functions work together to form organs of the body i.e. brain, eyes, lungs, kidneys, heart, skin etc.  

When all of these organs function effectively, an individual will be considered to have good physical health. Organs require energy to function and this energy comes from our food. Our body then uses this energy to help us perform our daily tasks and also all the internal bodily functions like breathing, pumping of the heart, digestion of food, maintaining body temperature etc.  

With this simple physiological description at hand, we can conclude that there are two important aspects to our physical health viz; calorie intake through eating and calorie expenditure through exercise and internal bodily functions (metabolism).  

The following factors are essential to maintain good physical health

1.   Our food must have an adequate amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fat, and other essential nutrients (refer to the fast food article in this magazine).

2.   Always have set times for meals. Limit eating in the night to approximately 3 hours before sleeping. 

3.   Deep fried food should be replaced with baked or grilled options.

4.   Limit your snacks.

5.   Fruit and vegetables must be an essential component of our diet.

6.   For children, a daily intake of milk is essential.

7.   Avoid tobacco products (including shisha and cigarettes), vapes, or use of any illicit drugs. 

8.   Alcohol is forbidden in Islam and it can cause serious damage to every single organ.

9.   There must be an adequate level of exercise (150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in a week). This exercise should increase your heart rate, your breathing should become fast, and your body should sweat as well. 

Mental health

Our mental health is more important than our physical health but sadly we are less focused on it. You cannot benefit from good physical health if your mental health is in chaos. For example, people suffering from depression or anxiety do not enjoy their life even if they do not have a single physical health problem.

Mental health or mental ill health is a hidden state of mind which cannot be seen. Many people suffer in silence and there is little understanding of mental health problems within our society. This makes it extremely difficult to detect, diagnose, and treat mental health problems. To make matters worse, there is a stigma attached to mental health problems because of which people feel ashamed and guilty when they are suffering.

Following factors can help significantly to improve your mental health

1.   Parents should be emotionally available to their children throughout their life.

2.   Try to look at the positive aspects of life and don’t dwell on negative experiences other than learning from these to further improve yourself.

3.   Be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you do not have.

4.   It is important to have good friends who can support you at difficult times.

5.   Plan your day the night before to avoid stress and unnecessary worries.

6.   Improve your skills (social, professional, family) as this will make you more confident.

7.   Always believe in your strengths, be ambitious, and aim high.

8.   Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in childhood can have devastating impact on one’s mental health and children must be protected from this by their parents

9.   Children should be taught that if they are experiencing any abuse (bullying at school or otherwise) they must discuss this with their parents or the person they trust the most. Abuse can only be stopped if other people know about it. If they do not talk about it, the abuse will continue

Spiritual health

Believe it or not, spiritual health is the most important aspect of our life. If we think of our life as a tree, then physical health is akin to the branches, mental health is the stem, and spiritual health is the root.

This most important aspect is also the most neglected. If the roots are not nourished adequately, this will affect the entire tree. Perhaps this is why we have no tranquillity or peace in our life, despite physical and material well-being.

How to improve spiritual health? Simple answer is to act upon the Nayk A’maal [Pious deeds]. This is a booklet in the form of daily, weekly, and monthly questions about tasks that affect our spiritual health. It is available in the form of an app from the Dawat-e-Islami website. You can download it by searching Nayk Amal.  

Life is a beautiful gift from Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. We should all try to look after our life and make it a means of our success on the Day of Judgement so that we can bask eternally in the bounties of Paradise.




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