It’s been said that most people fear death, even if subconsciously.
If this is true then every sign of aging is a reminder that even if we don’t get hit by a bus tomorrow, we are nonetheless getting closer to the inevitable finish line.
It’s no wonder there’s such a huge anti-aging industry. Whether it’s cosmetics or cosmetic surgery, diet plans or diet fads, or all manner of other must-have/be/do products aimed at our avoiding aging (/dying), we in the West don’t want to grow old.
Don’t believe me? Call anyone “old” and find out. Only a few of the really seasoned, rickety and “ready” would be okay with the reference (no matter how much love and intention you infuse into the message).
Personally, I don’t fear death, at least not consciously. I might fear being maimed and I certainly wouldn’t look forward to suffering, but the actual ending doesn’t bother me. (Then again, I could be fooling myself!)
So, why am I reading Deepak Chopra’s Ageless Body, Timeless Mind? Physical vanity, actually. Normally, I might deserve a measure of shame with that admission, but in the case of aging, not so much. How can I justify this?
Humans are judgmental creatures. Despite our best efforts, we do judge others by their covers, which isn’t necessarily a negative. We need the ability to discern in order to make safe, healthy and benefiting decisions.
However, when we are judged by our appearance, in this case referencing our visible age, the assumptions of others can (and do) affect our opportunities in life and ultimately how we see ourselves and hence—our physical bodies react to this.
We manifest what we believe to be true.
An example of this is my little mom, who is in her early 80s, yet looks much younger and as a result is treated as being much younger. She worked full time into her 70s taking care of old people! She is spry and witty and alert and lives alone on the fourth floor and takes the stairs every day. Despite having Crohn’s Disease, she’s only on one medication (for cholesterol). Many of the elderly she used to take care of–who were much younger than she is–seemed much older.
Looking younger = being treated younger = staying younger in a healthy way = improved quality of life.
But whether we want to look good for our age or if we want to avoid arthritis and dementia, the causes and solutions are the same. Even though Chopra’s book is over 20 years old, much of the information remains accurate. (It was republished in 2010 with only a new introduction.)
So, what are some of the commonalities that accelerate aging? (Author’s interpretation):
- Chronic blues (Depression)
- Not being able to express emotions
- Feeling helpless to change self or others
- Living solo
- Loneliness, no BFFs
- Lack of daily routine
- Lack of daily work routine (/lack of purpose)
- I wish I could quit my day job attitude
- Burning the candle at both ends (as in over 40hrs/week)
- Money woes/debt
- Being a worry-wart
- Regret for real or perceived past sacrifices
- Short fuse or no fuse (anger suppression)
- “Should-ing” on ourselves and others (criticism.)
But wait, there is always a Yang with the Yin. Yay!
Here are some How-Tos for slowing (or even reversing) the biological aging process:
- Happy marriage or long-term relationship
- I love my day job!
- Feeling happy, happy joy as in laughing out loud (but for real).
- Satisfying between-the-sheets life
- Long-term BFFs
- Regular daily routine
- Regular day job routine
- Hello holiday! (Min a week a year. Sounds low to me!)
- Feeling (not necessarily being) in control of our personal life
- Leisure time and make-me-happy hobbies
- Able to express feelings, even the yucky ones, easily
- Pollyanna about the future
- Financial security (not plenty of bucks, but enough.)
Though these lists are extensive, other research also shows how the quality of adaptability impacts aging. The commonalities of those who have lived to or beyond 100 years have the following qualities:
- Responding creatively to change—non-resistance!
- Not being worry-warts—accepting the uncertain.
- Creativity and invention.
- Adaptive energy—go with the flow, baby(-boomer)!
- Desire to live! Keep the party rolling.
Another study shows how living a life of (or at least including) service to others has a positive effect on aging. When we selflessly give of ourselves to others with no expectation of anything in return, it just feels good.
I remember my fondest memories of living in Venice Beach, CA, were of giving out granola bars to the home-lacking. Even seemingly small gestures work on our psyche!
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule. There will be some oldies, but goldies, who break all these rules and are still kicking it instead of kicking off. But which investment route makes the most sense? We can either follow the path of least resistance or we can rebel, stress out, stress our bodies and hope for the best.
Ultimately, whatever makes us feel best will be best, as less negative stress is a good thing.
We can conclude that how our bodies physically age is directly related and affected by our psychological age. And if we can age less in our minds and in our bodies, whatever actual years we have left will be better ones.
And, if better is possible, is good enough good enough?
Right on! Live long!
Check out Today’s Dirty Word: Aging. A Quick Quiz to Find Out How Well We Fair. for Part 2 of this piece!
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Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wiki Commons
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