Age is only a number, but if you are empowering it with energy fueled by a negative belief system you are painting a dangerous reality that could deliver exactly what you are most afraid of.
When you think about the word “old,” what images come to mind? Infirmity? Senility? Incontinence? Wrinkles? Chronic illness? Hip replacement? Impotence?
Just a few months ago, when I crossed the threshold of 60, something suspect started happening. For the first time in my life, I started obsessing about myself in terms of my age. And I’m still not entirely clear as to whether I was using it as a badge of courage or an excuse for incompetence.
“I’m 60; I need to get to bed earlier.”
“I’m 60; my clothes don’t fit like they used to.”
“I’m 60, I can’t remember my kids’ names.”
“I’m 60, there’s no way I can drive in a big city.”
“I’m 60, I’m too stiff and sore to have sex.”
None of these issues arrived beautifully wrapped in gift boxes on July 22nd. But this negative self-talk sure did.
Negatively thinking about aging can…you guessed it…actually make you feel older. It can impact your mental perception, your health, your happiness and the way you look.
So if that’s the case, then by thinking positively about aging, will you feel younger? You bet you will, and it’s even been scientifically proven! Just thinking about aging in a positive manner can add up to 7.5 additional years onto your life. That’s a pretty significant number when you think about it! And there are no complicated techniques to learn or expensive classes to take to learn to do it. It is simply a choice you decide to make.
7.5 years extra? Take my hand and let’s do this thing together.
Ditch Negative Self-Talk
Changing habits can be challenging, and negative thinking is just that – a habit that can be changed. Once you decide you want to make the change towards positive thinking, you’ll become far more aware of your own negative thoughts and negative self-talk that goes on in your head.
Maybe you’re used to internally saying things like, “Oh, look at how wrinkled my face is.” Or, “Boy, my body sure doesn’t look like it used to.” Or, holy cow my thoughts are a scrambled mess and I can’t remember anything.” These are the very thoughts we need to target, and turn around! And you’ll see that it becomes easier to change to positive self-talk when you’re able to recognize the negative.
Each time you have a negative thought, or hear yourself talking negatively about yourself aging, turn the statement around. Lead with the positive.
● So, in our examples above, “Oh, look at how wrinkled my face is” becomes “Look at those smile lines. I’ve been blessed with so many happy times!”
● Likewise, “Boy, my body sure doesn’t look like it used to” transforms into “Just think of the children I held and nourished with this body, and all the miles it has allowed me to travel in life!”
● How about, “My mind carries such profound wisdom from my years of working, raising children, and surviving the really tough times I can’t wait to share it with those who are younger and struggle thinking they need to know it all at that point in their lives.
The basis for this type of positive transformation comes with changing your perceptions of aging. Rather than thinking of it as an inevitable experience rife with pain, sorrow, and hurt, think of your growing years as a brand new facet of your life, a new chapter filled with great experiences to have.
Is aging inevitable? Yes, it sure is. And that being so, you might as well garner all the joy you can in the time you have by thinking more positively, having gratitude for your years, and taking pride in what those years have given you.
Make a gratitude list – write down those things, people, and experiences you treasure that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t the exact age that you are. Children, grandchildren, traveling, volunteering, accomplishments, wisdom and insight – these are all the things that give your years meaning, and they should be highlighted and celebrated!
It doesn’t end here. There are other things you can do for yourself to insure these years as a full and fabulous as any other time in your life.
Care for Yourself
Treat yourself with the utmost care. What you put in your body should be of the highest quality, and as close to whole foods as you can get. Doing away with processed foods, sugary drinks, excess caffeine, and alcohol can add life to your years! And even if you can’t quit them all, reducing the amounts you consume will still help you feel happier – and younger!
And drink more water! Your skin, hair, nails, organs, digestion, brain and eyes need it! Your body just plain needs it…so drink as much water as you can to stay well-hydrated constantly.
Exercise Your Body
I know we all hear how exercise is so important, and it’s easy to pay that lip service, but where aging is concerned, getting regular daily exercise is simply not optional. It is a must. Do things you enjoy – gardening, walking, bicycling, kayaking – and getting in your 30-45 minutes a day of exercise will be a breeze. If you’re mobility is challenged, nearly every fitness center, community center, YMCA, or senior center have chair exercise classes that you can attend. The point is to be doing something instead of nothing. Being sedentary only ages you faster – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Exercise Your Mind
And never discount the importance of staying socially active. If we’re feeling less-than-beautiful, if we’re feeling “old”, one of the best ways to perk yourself up is to do something with people. Who says you need to only visit with people your age? Take art classes, volunteer at a local school, do activities where you meet new people – all of these things will serve to keep your brain sharp and focused, and will give you a purpose.
And your purpose is important to turning back the clock with your brain. Without feeling as if we have a purpose, we die a little inside, don’t we? So make it a point, once your kids leave the nest to stay vibrant and connected. Make it a point after retiring from your profession, to stay active socially and mentally.
“The day you stop learning is the day you stop living…”
Learn new things! Never stop learning. Now is the time to take up that hobby or skill you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe it’s a creative endeavor such as painting or drawing. Possibly, you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument, but never had the time to devote to practicing. Or maybe you’re technically-minded, and you want to learn to code software, or create websites.
No matter your interest, the Internet allows you to easily continue to satisfy your curiosity for knowledge and learn new skills. Learning online for credit has been around for nearly two decades. However, it is also possible to e-learn, where you take online classes, without earning credits towards a degree. The best part is that there are no tuition fees and you get to learn on your own schedule.
Sites like Open Culture keep track of free e-learning opportunities. There are thousands of free online courses, audio books, language lessons and more. This is a goldmine of personal enrichment that allows you to keep vital, connected and informed. Lifelong learning is not an option, it’s a necessity.
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Continue to Challenge Yourself
Life is always moving you forward. My life is the perfect reflection of that truism. At 60 I’m the mother of two sets of twins under the age of five. I’ve launched my own business to support people just like us to find the courage to create the life of their dreams. I challenge myself every day to reconnect with the dreams of my youth and stand firm in the commitment that their gestation time is over. Give birth to your greatest joys. Remain busy and active. Challenge the rules and break with conformity. Whatever it is that interests you, go for it! There is never a better time than right now to expand your horizons, and keep yourself young in spirit!
Get outside, breath fresh air, close your eyes, and enjoy the place you’re at right now chronologically. You can’t change it, so letting it bother you, or fighting the inevitable changes, is a lesson in creating your own frustration. But you can change how you think about it, and that’s truly the secret to transforming your reality and creating the life of your dreams – regardless of what age you are.
I can’t wait to hear from you. Let’s challenge one another today! Please share one way you are turning back the clock with your positive attitudes and actions.