Sing, dance, and go camping and you might live longer

Singing, dancing, and camping.

In a 30-year Scandinavian study, researchers found that these three activities were the most common among people who remained happy throughout long lives.

Of course, this begs the question: Do those activities make unhappy people happy, or are those just the three things happy people tend to do?

I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

As for singing, Brian Eno says that’s a no-brainer.

Eno is a 60-something musician and record producer. If you’re familiar with the music of Paul Simon, David Byrne, U2, or Coldplay, then you’ve probably heard some of his work.

This guy knows from singing.

In an article he wrote, published in Resurgence magazine, Eno says: “I believe singing is the key to a long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, greater intelligence, new friends, increased self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a sense of humour. There! That got your attention.”

A few years ago, Eno and some friends started getting together to sing a capella. Some had musical experience and some didn’t, but excellence wasn’t the goal. In fact, there was no goal. They just got together on a regular basis and found they really enjoyed it.

Getting started is easy, he says. After you get some friends lined up, you need just three things: drinks, snacks, and printouts of lyrics to a few songs.

Then once you’re underway, Eno promises physiological benefits (deep and open breathing you wouldn’t normally do), as well as psychological benefits. He writes: “Singing leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness.”

There are also “civilizational” benefits: “When you sing with a group of people you learn how to subsume yourself to the group consciousness – because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings: to stop being me for a little while, and to become us. That way lies empathy; the great virtue.”

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson

“Freestyling” Brian Eno, Resurgence, July/August 2008, No. 249,