…or your time back!

In Japanese thought, it is not uncommon that the flow of time can stop. Perhaps there is more to that than we have known, in a manner of speaking.

I wish I could guarantee my readers full satisfaction or their time back, but that may be a bit over the top even for me. There are others who can actually give you time back, though. Jesus, Morpheus and your local training studio come to mind. What?

Well, it all began when the Norwegian National Broadcasting told about a Danish study. It looked at elderly people who habitually either went to church or listened to the church service on broadcasting. The women who did this lived on average 2.6 years longer than the control group who did not. For men the profit was slimmer, only 1.6 years.

It is worth noting that Denmark, like my native Norway, is a post-Christian country. For the last couple generations at least (which I remember) the norm has been to not be Christian, except for certain ritual like church weddings and funerals. So this is not a case of the poor unbelievers being harassed and stressed to death. On the contrary, at least in youth it is pretty common for Christians to be harassed. I bet it is no better for other religious minorities, but evidently this study was of Christians.

What struck me as I reflected on this, was that these 2 years of extra life may have been similar to the time they had spent over the decades listening to sermons and singing hymns etc each Sunday. How about that?

It is not like it would be completely unique. Many years ago I read a theme issue of Scientific American about aging. One point was exercise. The article said that if you start exercising at 40, the extra hours you add to your life are about the same as the hours you spend exercising. So for those of you who think exercise is hell on earth, you may as well cut it out unless you expect a worse hell after life.

But even this is not unique. Another study a few years ago showed that sleeping an extra hour adds an extra hour to your life. This only works up to about 9 hours a night (it varies a bit from person to person). After that, sleeping more correlates with shorter life. That may be because only a sick person could sleep that long, perhaps. But what is certain is that most of us sleep less than what would be good for our health. This has various side effects, like inactivity, overweight, diabetes and hypertension, and eventually an earlier grave.

On the other hand, we pay bills for every month, so if we could be awake the same number of hours in a shorter time, we might come out ahead financially. That is certainly possible, but I think I am curious enough about the future that I want to live a bit longer if I can. Even if it means sleeping a little longer, taking a long walk each day and perhaps even spend some time (or timelessness) in spiritual practice now and then.

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