How To Live Long

It may be no coincidence that so many creative types have long lives. New findings show how doing what you love can add years

Illustration by Serge Bloch for TIME

One of the greatest buildings in New York City, the snow white, round drinking cup that is the Guggenheim Museum, was created by a very old man. The human genius behind that structural genius was Frank Lloyd Wright, who started designing the building in 1943, when he was 76, kept at it until ground was broken in 1956 and lived until 1959 — just shy of both his 92nd birthday and the museum's official opening.

There's something very real about the way creativity endures in the face of age — and maybe even pushes back age. By now it's a gerontological given that the active, busy brain is also the brain that stays lucid longer, that resists dementia and other cognitive problems better. And it's a biological given that sedentary, bored or depressed people are far likelier than happy and occupied ones to come down with physical ailments. Increasingly, brain research is showing that in the case of creative people, this mortal cause-and-effect pays powerful dividends — that it's not just the luck of living a long life that allows some people to leave behind such robust bodies of work but that the act of doing creative work is what helps add those extra years. And that's something that can be available to everybody.