How do you think about Aging? What is your attitude? Do you look forward to aging, or do you dread it? How you answer that question has everything to do with what your aging experience will be like.
A positive attitude toward life will be a major step toward a long, healthy and happy life. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Less Stress. Some studies tell us that people with a positive attitude toward life are more likely to have reduced personal stress. Exercise contributes, as do good nutritional habits. And many activities once thought of as weird and off the wall, are now considered mainstream, including: Meditation, Awareness, Mindfullness, Living in the present, Not projecting ahead (worry). Newer studies are showing that body and mind really ARE part of a whole, and work together to either make us happy, or put up obstacles and limits.
Lower Medical Needs. This is simple. If you take care of yourself and take full responsibility for your own health, you will reap the benefits. How so? Exercise, good nutrition, and a positive attitude foster a positive self image. Studies suggest that people with a good self image and a positive attitude don’t have room for illness. Less illness means lower medical needs and costs.
Live Longer and Better. Happy people who take care of themselves live longer in general. In his book, The Blue Zones, Author Dan Buettner writes about the benefits of a series of specific factors that allow people living in certain parts of the world to live longer and happier lives than their counterparts throughout the rest of the world. Beyond exercise and a more plant based diet, other factors include:
- A Purpose in Life. Having a purpose is critical to aging happily. Boredom is a cause of a depressed physiology and can evolve into real depression according to many psychologists. When you have something to look forward to every day, a reason for getting up in the morning, you have built in The Okinawans have a word for this, Ikegai and it means “reason for getting up in the morning.” Other cultures have similar language built into their cultural vocabulary.
- A Close Circle of Good Friends. Buettner found that one of the attributes of people in certain areas with well above average longevity, was their relationships with close knit groups of like minded people. Why is this true in only certain areas? Buettner listed this as one of the attributes, and only suggested that it might be cause and effect.
A Better Overall Senior Experience. All of the above seem to result in an overall happier, healthier, stress reduced Senior Experience. The result is a positive experience of being alive, rather than a sad, depressed state of being. Which would you rather have?
Will we be all be happy all the time? Of course not. Events come into our lives that cause unhappiness, grief, turmoil, and real stress. It’s how we react to those things that affect our overall life experience. Grief passes — too slowly for most of us — but it passes nevertheless. Emotional upheaval comes to all of us in one form or another as we age. A seventy year old losing a ninety five year old parent is emotionally difficult. A ninety year old losing a sixty five year old child is also emotionally draining. But it happens and life goes on.
Will we be healthier all the time? Of course not. Illness and disease come to all of us. But the healthier our immune systems are to begin with, the easier it is for us to fend off illness and disease. Our bodies are built to be well, not ill. If we take care of ourselves, our chances of illness are less. Long term chronic illness happens. Infections happen. It is in our own best interest to insure that our systems are strong and capable of fending off disease at the start. But sometimes we have heart problems, get cancer, or find ourselves with the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. These are part of living, not necessarily aging. The more we take personal responsibility for our own wellness, the less chance these diseases have of finding their way in.
So, let us remember that we are living in an age of miracles. There is more opportunity for longer, healthier and happier lives than ever. But it is our own personal responsibility to go there. A positive attitude toward life goes a long way to fulfilling our hopes for a long, healthy and happy senior experience.
Thank you for reading.