On Aging Well

On our TV ads, internet and magazine ads, we see in bold type: Anti-Aging, Reverse Aging, Stay Young, Youth Shield, and Protect against Aging!!

It sounds as though the number 1 disease afflicting our society is aging! One has to really research to find positive examples of people experiencing healthy, normal, enjoyable (yes) aging.

It seems there is a great underlying fear of aging, with visions of an unattractive, helpless, frail and unhappy senior and then…that unmentionable, death.

We are even shocked when we see a vibrant, active, productive 80 year old. So much so, we put him or her on the news!

This perception is a result of our attitudes and beliefs. We push away at aging, seeing our senior years as an unimportant, leftover part of life that we don’t want to look at. And there is the Western view of death, which is to talk about it and think about it as little as possible, the unknown being so unthinkable and frightening. Yet, death is just a door to the next adventure.

There is another way. With grace and a new perspective, we can embrace aging, embracing every advantage and joy from this last phase of human life.  From seeking mentors and role models to healthy practices for wellbeing, we can create an enriching, purposeful, later life, replete with wisdom and higher consciousness.

We make endless decisions throughout our life that determines how well we will age. We now know that only 10% of our genetic heritage determines our condition of health and aging. The rest is environmental including our spiritual, mental and emotional attitudes.

We can rewrite our own story and how it will unfold.  We all live in our own alternate universe of our own making!

Our choices include our thoughts and beliefs, how we react to our thoughts and emotions, how we take care of ourselves physically and the company we keep, to just name a few.

The common theme through all of this is to what extent do we experience wellbeing. I love that word, the meaning, and the condition. What does it mean?

Wellbeing per Dictionary.com:  A good or satisfactory condition of existence; a state characterized by health, happiness, and prosperity.

I’d like to add emotional and spiritual health, in which we are connected to the depth of all that we are, with a sense of reverence and awe at our very existence. This doesn’t mean that we’re happy all the time, because life is messy and complex. We learn and grow through our challenges and changes, through allowing ourselves to feel and love deeply. If we do this with awareness, it adds to who we are in a positive way.

Here are some ways to age well, with emphasis on wellbeing:

1)      Listen to your body. If it is whispering discomfort, tiredness or stiffness, lethargy or restlessness, it is giving you the message to shift your focus, stop to notice, and take loving care. The answer lies in your innate body’s intelligence. Learn its language. Do this at the first sign and you will ward off more serious, louder cries for attention, i.e. dis-ease.

2)      Your body’s condition is a reflection of what is going on within you emotionally. We hold our past traumas and injuries, emotional as well as physical, within our bodies. Doing yoga has been shown to help release past trauma such as PTSD for people.

3)      Allow your emotions to be felt as they come up. We all have a kneejerk reaction to shove those uncomfortable feelings back down; but doing that over and over means we don’t ‘digest’ them properly, and they will continue to exist as underlying stress. If you sit with your feelings, acknowledging them, they will disperse on their own to torture you no more!

4)      Every day, intend your life to be what you desire. Intention is very powerful. Begin your day with thoughts and plans that make you smile. How will you be? How will you treat others? How grateful will you feel?

5)      Meditation/Prayer.  Spend some time each day in solitude, offering yourself to your highest, to God, and be still. The benefits are obvious, but did you also know that studies show this will dramatically change your brain to more flexible, creative, clearer, and emotionally-balanced?

6)      Eat mindfully. Eat only when you are hungry. Leave 25% of your stomach empty to aid digestion. Sit down to eat and do not eat when you are upset. Reduce frozen, leftover, un-cooked, nuked and canned foods. Eat fresh foods with different colors and tastes.

7)      Move your body. Choose to move throughout the day. Walk outside every day. Stretch or do yoga and keep flexible. Walk outside barefoot.  Not only is it good for you but, as you age, you will have good balance.

8)      Continue to make future plans to look forward to. Your desires fuel you forward, make you vital and interested. Nothing will pick you up like making concrete plans for a great event or trip.

9)      Love Yourself. So very important. Look into your eyes in the mirror and say “I love you!” Love others —   that’s your job!

10)   Choose role models or Archetypes you want to emulate. This is also very powerful. There’s a ton of literature out there to help you discover the archetypes you resonate with. There are hints within your dreams & daydreams, your attraction to certain stories, to heroes and heroines, and once you focus on these examples, you will be propelled to make shifts in your life. You will soon be displaying what was once hidden attributes that you never knew you had!

11)    Surround yourself with positive people who are where you want to be. And eliminate to your best ability those who undermine your joy.

12)   Go with what makes you strong. Every thing, person and activity either gives you energy or makes you feel weaker. Pay attention and choose wisely.

13)   Don’t retire. I don’t mean to tell you to stay in a job you dislike. If you are 56 or 61 or 65 and cannot wait to retire, seek what inspires you, what you’ve always wanted to do. Go for the joy it brings. Joy flowing through you is what keeps you healthy and dynamic!

14)   Invest Your Money. Yeah, put some money aside each payday in long-term accounts so you live in abundance as you age. And knowing you have that fills you with confidence.

15)   Ignore the Cultural Messages coming from society, media, or any source telling you that your life will be somehow ‘less’ because of your age.

16)   Find your Courage. You must be fierce and bold to age gracefully.  And do not ever give up. You are a magnificent, absolutely amazing and unique being, the likes of which has never, ever been seen before. Reach down deep within and all the riches in life are there for you.