Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Promises of an eternal life in a heaven high up and far away can be enticing.
This life down here, however, has its moments so perhaps it's worth enjoying it for as long as you can. After all, you still have at least one crazy -- but eminently sensible to you -- business idea you'd like to see realized. And then there's the life you imagine after you've succeeded.
You know some of the steps you ought to take. You should eat better, exercise more and generally try to avoid too many stressful situations. Is there anything else, though, that you can do to, as Queen once had it, keep yourself alive?
A new study of 6,710 adults aged 50 and over, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests there might be.
As with so many academic studies, it has a deeply serious title: The art of life and death: 14 year follow-up analyses of associations between arts engagement and mortality in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.
Therein lies the clue. It seems that those who participate in cultural activities live longer. Those who went to the opera, theater, art galleries or museums just once or twice a year had an increased lifespan of 14 percent. Those who went once a month, or even once every few months, enjoyed a 31 percent increased lifespan during the study's 14-year term.
I can already hear you harrumph with skepticism. Aren't things like the opera the preserve of the wealthy who, by the way, happen to live longer? Opinions are shrilly divided on that. These researchers -- from University College, London -- anticipated your impressions. Here's how they put it:
People who engaged with receptive arts activities on a frequent basis (every few months or more) had a 31 percent lower risk of dying (355/1906 deaths, 0.69, 0.59 to 0.80), independent of demographic, socioeconomic, health related, behavioral, and social factors.
How, then, to explain this result? It's so tempting for research to offer absolutes, something researchers themselves are loath to broach. These researchers' speculations, however, hint at some clues:
Receptive arts engagement could have a protective association with longevity in older adults. This association might be partly explained by differences in cognition, mental health, and physical activity among those who do and do not engage in the arts, but remains even when the model is adjusted for these factors.
Of course, your idea of the artistic and other people's may differ. In my soul, one of the great movies of all time is Major League. Does that count? How about the clothes of Jean Paul Gaultier? One of my local museums held an exhibition to celebrate them. What about Keeping Up With The Kardashians? (I had to ask.) Can that have the same artistic meaning and value as Rubens and Rembrandt? What if a museum decides to hold a Kardashian exhibit?
You may choose to conclude it doesn't matter. More important, perhaps, is engaging your mind and soul in things outside of your immediate self and letting your whole being be transported to another place.
There's a little problem with art, however. When it comes to museums and art, there are those who feel they don't have social permission to enjoy them. For some time now, such institutions have tried to attract wider audiences, but this hasn't entirely entertained those of slightly snooty demeanor who believe art is their sole preserve.
Still, if I have one wish for you in this new year, it's encapsulated in the words of a truly famous artistic character: May you live long and prosper.