What is the worst lifestyle
"15 years of our life depend on the lifestyle"
Comedian Eckart von Hirschhausen gives five tips for a long life. And he says why antiaging is nonsense and why we should take old age lightly.
TV doctor Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen is relaxed about the second half of his life.
Mr. von Hirschhausen, your new stage program is called “Finally!” And deals with time, aging and death. What is the key message to the audience?
CORNER CART FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: When life is finite, when do we finally start living? In order to fathom this question, I pull out all the stops: there is cabaret, music and magic, a lot to laugh about and be amazed. But also something to think about and something very practical to take home with you: I undergo a digital detox cure for myself and a viewer, explain how you can lose ten pounds in a healthy way and encourage the audience to do a round of pelvic floor exercises together. I am more free on stage than anywhere else, I can improvise and try out every evening - I enjoy that and this spark jumps over to the audience.
You recently turned 50, which is an occasion for some to think intensively about getting older for the first time. Maybe to quarrel a little with the number. Was that the same for you?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: You mean, did I have the famous midlife crisis? I really hope that I'm in the mid-life crisis, because that would mean I have another 50 years ahead of me! No, I really can't complain: I can still do everything I could when I was 20 - just not on the same day (laughs).
When would you say you are actually old?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: If you ask yourself when tying your shoes: What else can I do when I'm down here (laughs). No, seriously, do you know how many reassuring studies there are on aging? First, life satisfaction usually increases with age. Second, the older you get, the older you get. Sounds strange, but it's like this: Statistically, life expectancy increases with every year that you reach. Because someone who has not died by the age of 70 is more likely to become 80 than someone who is only 42 and still has some obstacles to overcome by the time he is 80. That is a comforting thought!
"I find age lines and smile lines worth striving for and beautiful."
Life expectancy is increasing - but we humans, almost collectively, demonize getting older and try to stop the "decay" with means such as botox or wrinkle creams. What do you think of all this antiaging craze?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: I think age lines and smile lines are desirable and beautiful. When I see a woman who is over 25 and has no wrinkles around her eyes, I don't ask myself: What kind of cream does she have? I ask myself: What is her attitude towards life? I don't want to get stuck in the elevator with that, if you know what I'm talking about ... In all honesty, wouldn't it be the worst if antiaging really worked? Your body is getting younger, but your mind is getting older. At some point you will have Alzheimer's but are physically just coming back to puberty. You can do it again - but you don't know why. Is that a lifelong dream? To be forever young, to live forever, would only be one thing: dead boring! Only through finiteness does every moment acquire its value, its tragedy or comedy.
Statistically speaking, a man who is 65 years old today can still count on an average of almost 20 years, while a woman of the same age has 23 years ahead of him. Conditions our grandparents could only dream of. Do you see increasing life expectancy as an opportunity for valuable “bonus years” or does it just prolong the “suffering” in old age?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: I think “bonus years” is a very nice word, much nicer than the remaining lifetime. Increasing life expectancy can be a gift, but I don't want to gloss over the fact that at the end of life there are also pain and situations of despair. But being worried all the time for fear of this final phase is a real waste of time. Above all, I want to get across: Don't be against life all the time. I am anti-anti-aging! We are biologically equipped with two programs: Multiply and withdraw. Bring something new into the world - be it children or ideas - and then don't stand in the way of the new forever. In one of my favorite cartoons, which I quote on stage every evening, Charly Brown says: "One day we will all die", to which Snoopy replies: "Yes, but not on all other days."
"We live longer than any generation before us and still have the feeling that we don't have time?"
So age doesn't just have something to do with the number on your ID card, but above all with the way you live your life?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: For the current issue of my health magazine HIRSCHHAUSEN GESUND LEBEN, I was able to interview the chimpanzee researcher and nature activist Jane Goodall, one of my greatest role models for me. Not only did she show me how chimpanzees greet each other, but she also explained why monkeys have a sense of humor. It was a very intense conversation. Jane Goodall is 83 and one of the most active and tireless fighters I know - at an age when others have been retired for 20 years. Age is definitely more than just a number, it's a way of life.
Still, as we get older, we often feel that time is racing, that we have no time at all. How do we manage to live more consciously?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: Isn't it actually funny that we live longer than any generation before us and still have the feeling that we don't have time? It doesn't have to be like that. Do you remember the first kiss? And the 17th birthday? Our brains pay more attention to things the first time they happen. So a good trick to slow down time is to break out of the routine and learn new things over and over again. I myself have just started playing guitar again, just like I did when I was a teenager. Suddenly I feel like I'm at the campfire again, but at the same time I'm happy that I don't have to sleep on an air mattress afterwards. This is the best emotional antiaging.
And what else helps? Do you have a formula for a long, healthy and happy life?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: Quite simply, the best trick to prolong your life is to remove anything that shortens it. In my stage program “Finally!” I get right to the point: 15 years of our lives depend on our lifestyle. There are no tablets, no operations and certainly no creams that protect us better than five very simple everyday things: don't smoke, move around, eat vegetables - and: grow up and stay a child.
“Live now. Sounds banal. But later, the now is over from now. Forever."
So humor also plays a role?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: Karl Valentin wrote the wise sentence: When it rains, I am happy. Because if I'm not happy, it's raining too. Humor is nothing superficial at all, but the deep understanding of the contradictions, the absurdity and the insoluble riddles of our existence. The humor was given to us as a way out and consolation so that we do not go crazy or despair about things we cannot change. I've just seen a great example where an eleven year old girl interviewed me about my new CD of kid jokes. She mentioned casually that her mother had breast cancer and was on chemotherapy. And then she said that she thought it was stupid to hide the bald head under a cloth or a wig, because you can still see immediately that something is wrong. When the two of them went to a concert, she stuck a decal for her mother, a butterfly tattoo in the middle of her bald head. And with that she showed, without being aware of the significance of this “decoration”: Yes - the bald head is there, but we don't hide it, we are not ashamed of it - we make the best of it!
Finally, a little journey through time: Imagine the 80-year-old Eckart von Hirschhausen. What kind of picture do you have in mind?
FROM HIRSCHHAUSEN: Since I'm becoming more and more like my father, I even know that my hair will eventually turn white - and hopefully I'll be a little wise too! In my medical training I learned to see old age and death as evil enemies. What nonsense. Nevertheless, I am also afraid of the transition into old age, that I will then constantly compare and annoy myself, which may no longer work. But I have met many old people who have taken my fear away. And the only advice I can give you in the end: live now. Sounds banal. But later the now is over from now. Forever. Life is like a sparkler. It burns down. Either way. We have to wonder ourselves
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