Do you believe that you are you are ‘as young as you feel’? That you’re free to take charge of your own health, happiness and wellbeing, no matter what your age?
In frustration at some of the ingrained beliefs about aging that he saw shackling his colleagues and friends as they grew older, an American baseball legend asked, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” implying that you need to break out of the mental conditioning that makes you think you are defined by your age.
The calendar is a useful way to let you know the date, but if you let yourself be hemmed in by your chronological age, you may lock yourself out of potentially valuable opportunities.
Nextgen population researchers have recognised the greater import of health, cognitive function and life expectancy rather than age data as they plan for future populations. “We should not consider someone who is 60 or 65 to be an older person,” said researcher Sergei Scherbov. “Saying that ‘40 is the new 30’ .. is truer than people know.”
We’ve heard how our health age can be years younger than our calendar age, if we’re active and eat sensibly. Now, research into the mind/body/spirit connection in several fields, including neuroscience and meditation, adds evidence to the claim that it is our mindset, more than the food we eat or the exercise we do, that affects our physical body.
Excited by the health implications of the mind sciences, a Cleveland Clinic Foundation exercise psychologist compared individuals who worked out at a gym against another cohort who just visualized working out. Not surprisingly, the gym-goers experienced a 30 percent increase in muscle. However, the ones who only thought about working out also experienced a 13% increase in muscle strength, urging us to think beyond the physical to mental attitudes and capacities.
Many integrative health practitioners take this a step further, asserting that it is spiritual thoughts and practices that make a significant difference to better health and longevity. Mary Baker Eddy, an early researcher into this connection in her book, Science and Health, suggests that we “…. shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight” for a longer, healthier and happier life.
She also suggests that it’s time to stop focussing on the body so much, and be aware of the myths about aging that are constantly influencing us. Be aware that “timetables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood”, and stop keeping a record of ours or others ages; or at least dispute the assumptions of debility and aging every time you buy a birthday card.
Healthwise, it’s worth acknowledging that spiritual, mindful or positive thoughts bring vitality, freshness and promise to each day.
Some have broken free from the belief that they’re ruled by an aging body. You too can adopt a mental attitude of ageless being, and look forward to experiencing the health benefits.