I was once at a funeral and heard a beautiful explanation of the significance of the bracha: “May you have arichas yomim (length of days)” :
Why do we say ‘arichas yomim’- (may you have) long days. Surely you should wish people that they have long months or years – this would be more appropriate!!?!
To wish someone that they have ‘long days’ is a bracha that every moment of their day will be worthwhile and meaningful.
Although Rosh HaShonna comes around every year and it is an apt time for serious reflection of our deeds and the direction we’re heading in life, it is praiseworthy to conduct a ‘cheshbon hanefesh’ (an accounting of our day’s actions) every night – so that we can constantly head in the right way.
If we have deviated from that path, repentance for a misdeed in a day is a lot less painful than repentance for heading in the wrong direction for a year! The bracha of arichas yomim is a blessing that we will appreciate every moment that we have been gifted in this world and fulfill the divine purpose of coming close to The Creator.
May we all be merited with arichas yomim!