This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

May 26, 2019

Choose Your Age

The other day a semi-regular student at our yoga studio came in and I asked them how they were doing. They replied that they were doing “Okay for someone my age. You know, my knees hurt, I’ve got arthritis in my hip and fingers, and my lower back is kind of sore. But that’s what you have to expect when you’re this age. I’m getting by.”

I won’t tell you how old this individual is, perhaps you can hazard a guess, but I will say they are more than 15 years younger than I am. This person hasn’t really taken care of himself very well. They are at least 20 pounds overweight, drinks a bottle or more of wine a night, eats a large amount of ultra-processed food, has a largely sedentary job, and their only exercise is a yoga class once or twice a month. Given all that it is no surprise that they feel “old”.

Their mistake, and it is an all too common one, is to believe that that deterioration is inevitable; just a part of the natural aging process. Far too many people believe that once you hit a certain age everything starts to fall apart. Depending on with whom you speak, that age could vary widely from as young as 30 or 40 to as old as 60 or 70. Based on their experience with parents, grandparents or friends, people have a “magic number” in their head as the age when they believe they will begin to inevitably fall apart.

There is nothing inevitable about it. For the vast majority of people there is no reason they cannot be very healthy and very active well into their 60s, 70s, 80s, and even their 90s. There is no reason to accept as unavoidable the reduction in our strength and capabilities. But it does take work.

Most people really don’t mind work if they believe that doing that work will benefit them. Similarly, almost everyone hates doing work that they don’t believe will have any benefit or that is a waste of their time. If you believe that your physical and mental deterioration are inevitable and inescapable than you are less likely to be willing to put in the work that is essential to prevent those things from happening. Good health begins with believing that you can be good and healthy at any point in your life.

Many of the things that people associate with the negative effects of aging can actually happen at any point in a person’s life. People can get arthritis in their teens, develop a sore lower back in their 20s, and become overweight or even obese at any age. Hearing loss and failing eyes can happen at any age for many reasons. A sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet will leave anyone and everyone feeling terrible physically, mentally, and emotionally. Truly old well before their time.

Those things don’t have to happen to you. You have the opportunity and the ability to decide for yourself how healthy you will be and how “old” you allow yourself to be. It really is not that hard, but it does take some persistence and determination.

Health and long life begin in your head and your heart by telling yourself how good, how strong, and how capable you are. Never, and I do mean never, use the phrase “I’m too old for that.”. As soon as you begin saying that to yourself you will begin to believe it and, as soon as you believe it, it will be true for you. When you decide you’re too old to learn to ride a bicycle or a horse, learn a new language, start a new career, open a business, or see the world then you have begun to die. Not because you had to, because you have now chosen to leave life behind.

You are actually quite incredible. I know because I’ve seen you. I’ve seen a hundred you’s, a thousand you’s, and I know that you are much stronger than you imagine, you’re much brighter and more intelligent than you give yourself credit for, and your heart is as big and as strong as anyone’s. Believe that, believe that about yourself, for it is true. I know.

There will be people and situations throughout your life which may cause you to doubt that. Societies, and too many people, want to make us feel small and inadequate so that we depend on “them” to do for us. They want us to believe we are weak or old or powerless. Don’t give in to that pressure and don’t believe them. It’s not true. You are as strong as you choose to be.

Once you’ve made that choice then the rest is easier. Once you have realized and accepted how special, strong and talented you are then you will realize that you are WORTH taking care of. Most of us will tend to neglect our old car, leaving it unwashed and dirty inside and out. It’s no longer special to us. But our new car, well, that is spotless as we lavish love on it to keep it looking and smelling new. That’s how you should be with yourself, your newly rediscovered self.

You are absolutely worth taking care of, and it’s not that hard. Moderate exercise on a regular basis, eating real food not junk, moisturizing daily for your skin, moderating (or eliminating) your alcohol consumption, and getting regular sleep will very quickly have you feeling not just good, but GREAT!

That is the essence and the goal of yoga. It begins with knowing how special and unique you are. Yoga then guides you through a journey of self-discovery and self-healing to reach a place where it just all works. Your body, your heart, your mind, and your spirit firing on all cylinders and you living your best life whether you are 20-something or 90-something.

You decide. Will you be young or old?

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

David Anderson  |  Contribution: 4,720