If you want to live a longer, happier life, here are five tips that are all backed by science . . .
1. Don't smoke or drink too much. And if you do smoke, it's time to quit. One study found that heavy smoking was the #1 predictor of early death. But the good news is if you stop by age 45, the effects of it can go away by the time you hit your mid-70's.
2. Keep learning. Continuing to educate yourself helps you live longer, and makes you happier. Partly because people who do it are more likely to adopt healthier habits as they get older.
3. Maintain your friendships, and try to be a GOOD friend. Staying social can extend your life. But just hanging out isn't always enough. You also need to HELP your friends and family when they're in need, and be willing to lean on them when YOU need help.
4. Develop good coping skills. People who find healthy ways to deal with stress tend to live longer than people who get angry, or use food and alcohol to cope. Things like exercise and having a sense of humor about life work better in the long run.
5. "Generativity," which means giving back to your community. People who help guide younger generations tend to be happier in old age, partly because it adds purpose. One study found that people who fit into that category are at least three times more likely to be happy after the age of 50.