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The Four Aces

An excerpt from Love, Laugh, and Eat by John Tickell, M.D.

Life is like a game of cards: you can’t be truly happy unless you hold all four aces.

The Ace of Diamonds represents the drive for wealth. If that’s the only ace in your pack, you’ll never find happiness. Western life is a counting game, isn’t it? It’s count, count, count—money, money, money. But show me people with diamonds and a heap of money, and I’ll show you plenty of miserable people, whether they’re multimillionaires or billionaires.

You can buy friends and you can rent friends, but unless you’ve got the other three aces in your pack, you’re not working and playing with a full deck. You can’t be truly happy without the other three.

The Ace of Hearts represents relationships, family, spirituality, belief systems, and compassion. If this is the one ace you’re missing, you won’t find happiness. Show me a guy with the diamonds and no heart, and I’ll show you an empty person.

The Ace of Spades represents your work ethic. We all need to do some digging. We need to get our hands dirty and go the extra mile. The more you work at something, the better you get. If you’re not getting better, seek help, or maybe a coach.

As we get on in years, we stop work and retire—to do what? “Retire” is a peculiar word. You’re tired—why would you want to get re-tired? People who live a long, healthy, and happy life seem to keep reasonably busy. Are you involved in a charity? Are you doing good for the world?

The Ace of Clubs is the social ace. It represents social contact. People tend to forget their friends; they really do. When was the last time you hung out with your friends just for the sake of being with them, just for laughs? I bet you can’t remember. You need your friends. Share a drink; tell a story. The Okinawan culture depends on support systems. Okinawans’ entire way of life revolves around their connection with other people. Sociologists call it social connectedness.

If you hold the four aces in your pack, you can be truly happy. And isn’t that the ultimate goal in life for ourselves and our loved ones?

It’s all part of the same deal. You see, it’s not the cards we’re dealt in the game of life that matters. It’s the way we play the game. And the best cards in the pack are those four aces.

Lots of the “pop research” that you read about in magazines suggests that our health and fate are determined by genetics. Don’t you believe it! Genetic influence can be suppressed as low as 30 percent. The other 70 percent is up to us. If we play our cards right, we end up with the aces.

Oh, and don’t forget the jokers in your pack. See the funny side of life. Have a laugh. It’s great medicine—one of the best ways to cope.

Learn more about the new book Love, Laugh, and Eat by John Tickell, M.D., and discover the secrets of longevity from the healthiest people on earth.


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