In this article: Aging is not a choice, but how you age is…
What does an ageless attitude truly mean? Is it a physical state of being? A mental one or perhaps it is a spiritual awareness? It might just be a combination of the tree. What we can say for sure is that it’s time to change our societal beliefs regarding what aging means and how we feel about it.
Western culture is incredibly guilty of placing the emphasis on preserving the physical aspect of youth, maintaining beauty, and we achieve this by consuming services and products. What you may not realize, though, is that the secret to ageless living lies in your attitude.
The ageless attitude. It is this attitude which will help you flourish mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
How can you capture the ageless attitude for yourself? Well, let’s first discuss some of the aspects of your life that affect your overall aging process.
The Sound Mind
Spoiler alert: there is no magical age that you reach when you suddenly feel feeble or frail or even decrepit. No, you won’t turn 50 and feel the sudden urge to rush to the grocery store to buy adult diapers.
Do you know what amazing women are 50 and older? Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, and Jane Fonda! Do any of them seem like targets for hearing aid commercials or adult diapers? No, of course not.
The bar for old age is certainly higher now than ever before – we’re cooler than our parents were at our age, we dress better, the classic old folk’s fashion is disappearing from stores as there is no longer a need to dress dowdily.
Additionally, we are living longer, we work later, and not only do we feel younger for longer, we look it, too. In fact, the fastest-growing age group of the American population, according to the 2010 census, is centenarians, which are people who live to be 100 or older. The belief is that is only set to grow (and perhaps by tenfold).
So, the idea of old has changed quite a bit over the years and many people in this age group are aghast at the thought of being referred to as senior citizens. If you’re in this age group or have family members that are you probably don’t think of them as senior citizens. You probably reserve that title for people in their late 70s and beyond. Our perception of who is old changes as we age, yes, but it’s changing everywhere else now, too.
Aging is just a matter of fact – it’s going to happen, whether you are ready or not. However, when you’re ready and positive about the changes set to come your way you are going to experience a healthier aging experience. The choices you make when it comes to nutrition, exercise, and more play a major role in how healthily you age. If you start telling yourself that your memory is failing, you simply because you recently celebrated your 50th birthday – then there’s a good chance you will talk yourself into aging earlier than necessary.
The Healthy Body
There are certain steps you can take to ensure your ageless attitude remains intact – and a healthy body is a major one. That means eating well and exercising.
Main Contributors To Aging Of The Body
There are four main factors that contribute to the process of aging. Inflammation, stress, oxidative damage, and glycation.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect against attacks. However, long-term inflammation is another story. It’s a silent killer operating under the radar to damage the walls of blood vessels and it is a major factor in degenerative diseases. You can combat them by eating plenty of foods good for fighting inflammation, such as leafy greens, seeds, garlic, nuts, onions, and beans.
The long-term effects of stress are damaging to your body. Not only can excess levels of cortisol damage blood vessels, it can also shrink your brain, affect your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. It also fuels chronic inflammation. When we talk about stress management we are talking about something that is vital to your health and happiness. You can manage your stress by practicing self-care, whether it’s with a hobby, meditation, praying or learning how to breathe properly. Sleep is also an important factor in stress levels, so it’s vital that you get at least seven hours on a nightly basis.
Your cells are literally rusting, causing them to age from within. Oxidative stress plays a role in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia (ref.). This is a result of free radicals so it’s vital that you eat a healthy diet, one that is rich in antioxidants. So, go organic where possible, only choose lean proteins, the freshest fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
When excess sugar is present it attaches itself to fat molecules and proteins which leads to glycation thus damaging every system of the body. The best way to fight this is by avoiding excess sugar consumption, limiting your intake of simple cards and avoiding any food that is fried.
When combined, these four factors damage your DNA, your cells, organs, bodily functions, and systems, and can even contribute to brain shrinkage.
You might feel overwhelmed by the thought of overcoming these factors, however, with stress management, a healthy diet, regular exercise, building healthy relationships, and a positive attitude you can overcome this to extend your life and live healthier for longer.
Now, let’s look at some key habits that will support your pursuit of obtaining an ageless attitude.
Key Habits To Support The Ageless Attitude
We are living longer, we are living healthier. There is a school of thought where by researchers believe it is possible that we have the mind power to control our cells and genes, rather than allowing them to control us. This suggests that the perceptions we hold about aging can physically influence our body’s decision to repair or replace damaged cells. Our thoughts are communicating with the rest of our body and that can trigger a reprogramming, whether that is negatively or positively. This isn’t research that everyone buys into and there is a lot more to learn about it.
However, we may not know how true the above is, but what we do know is that yoga can. Duke University Medical Center researchers discovered that regularly practicing yoga (particularly Hatha) increases the hippocampus’ gray matter. Your hippocampus is responsible for compassion, brain function, and introspection. So, in addition to this increase, yoga also helps relieve pain and manage blood pressure. Why does this matter? Yoga and meditation are big keys in unlocking a better attitude overall.
We know the four keys that cause the breakdown and aging of our body, we discussed them at length above. You can battle against them with stress management, whole foods and nutrients, exercise, and a healthy attitude to aging.
Part of cultivating your ageless attitude, in addition to your body and mind, is an ageless spirit. Spirituality doesn’t have to be related to religion, we all have our own ways we feed our spirit. For you, it may be visiting a church once a week, for someone else, it may be a long hike on a beautiful day.
What we know is that it’s important to feed our spirits, no matter how we choose to do so. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands I can see that this one may sound overwhelming – but, it doesn’t take much time to stargaze or enjoy a garden.
Communing with nature is one of the greatest ways to feed your spirit because we’re all part of this planet and we realize that we are just a small part of the biggest picture, it’s easy to tap into a new energy.
Reframe Your Terms
Generally speaking, we use the term aging as a way of describing our decline, the deterioration of both body and mind. While getting older is inevitable, how we age is entirely in our hands.
So, in addition to eating well, exercising regularly, and all the other lifestyle factors we can affect – you can solidify that ageless attitude by paying more attention to the words that you use when you talk about aging.
Take notice of how you talk about the aging process – is it always negative? Are you resigned to the fact that your body is breaking down? Why? Reframe the situation and start looking at things more positively.
The physical effects of aging can start at any time and they do so based on our lifestyle choices. If you drink a bottle of wine every night while smoking a pack of cigarettes you are going to age more quickly than someone who doesn’t smoke and only drinks alcohol in moderation. It’s harder to maintain an ageless attitude when your face and body don’t feel the same way. Part of maintaining an ageless attitude lies in looking after the rest of you.
Do you blame your age every time you experience an ache or a pain? Do you get ill and assume it’s simply because you’re getting older? The more you say these things the more you start to believe them and so does your body.
We often joke about dreading milestone ages like 30 and beyond. On the face of it we are joking, but deep down there is part of us that truly believes life is over at these ages.
Grow Younger Instead
Okay, no one is saying to start counting backward (although, who among us hasn’t tried to get away with that one?), you’d do well to ignore your numerical age and consider it as big a celebration as you did when you turned 8, 13, 16, and 21. We’ve started to dread birthdays rather than seeing them as something to acknowledge. Every birthday that you enjoy is another successful year of living this life.
Key Tenets Of The Ageless Attitude
Who wouldn’t want to capture an ageless attitude? Don’t we all want to maintain an attitude that allows us a fresh take on life? Believing that no matter where you are or what you’re doing – believing that you’re in the right place.
Who cares how old you are chronologically? Be that person who everyone looks at and wonders how old you are. Part of being ageless is living life to the max and making sure that you live every day to its fullest.
You don’t have to do certain things because you’ve reached a particular age. You can do whatever you want – but what you’re truly focused on is making the most of every second life gives you.
Part of the aging process is the collection of responsibilities that pile up, from balancing the budget, to looking after children and elderly parents, something that seems to fall away is the pursuit of pleasure.
You reach a point where pleasure seems selfish – you’re too grown up to have fun, instead, you’re constantly taking on more and giving more of yourself away. If you have reached a point where you refer to hobbies and downtime as a guilty pleasure, then you have gone too far. You don’t need to apologize for doing the things you enjoy.
Life is draining, and you aren’t doing yourself any favors by letting it drain you. Part of maintaining an ageless attitude is accepting happiness. You deserve self-care, whether it’s a long bubble bath or eating out with a friend.
Know What Works
Part of the ageless attitude is making decisions that are based on what you know you want while remaining open to new things. You can choose what you like, regardless of the judgment you may get from others. You have nothing to prove.
Let Go Of The Past
Anger will only weigh you down, and if you continually bury your emotions it will only add to your burden. When you achieve your ageless attitude, you have the strength to smile happily at someone who is annoying you – you have let go of the anger holding you back and you know that a minor annoyance can’t take you down.
Something that children do is explore, they explore what their bodies are capable of – they throw themselves into a somersault, climb trees, run down hills as fast as they can. Of course, we tend to grind this behavior to a halt when it moves beyond exploration and it’s expected of us.
We lose the joy of new discoveries and it becomes instead, an exercise in education or proving your worth. Which is why adults dread going to the gym and resist it with all their might. An ageless attitude means embracing movement and being curious about what your body can still do – whether it’s at the gym, stretching or riding a horse on the beach.
Be Your Best Self
It is all about feeling free enough to be whoever you are. What that means for you is different from what it is for someone else. For you, it could be ditching makeup and letting your hair gray naturally. For someone else, it could be choosing that brightly colored pair of pants in the department store. There is freedom in shaking off concerns about what others think.
Why are you allowing stuff to accumulate in your life? When your home is overflowing with clutter it’s difficult to feel organized and manage your happiness – what you need is a decluttered space that makes you feel happy to be in.
Your Partner Is Contagious
Your ageless attitude can rub off on your partner – it’s all about understanding there is always more to learn about each other and appreciating each other for who they are. They aren’t afraid to choose exciting when pleasant is the easier option.
Perhaps more importantly, they’re not afraid to spend time apart pursuing activities they enjoy doing on their own or with friends. You’re more interesting when you lead your own life.
New Dating Habits
If you’re not in a relationship but you want to build more relationships, you should try to meet people when dating isn’t the only thing you have in mind. For example, join a cooking class, attend a conference that piques your interest, put yourself in places where you will meet like-minded people and you may just find that you share a special spark with someone you come across.
Of course, you may meet a new friend, too, and you can’t have enough of those. You’re more fulfilled when you go out of your way to make your life richer. Ageless attitudes are all about a willingness to try something new, to go on a second date, to be optimistic. It’s about refusing to settle.
If you’re single and you are happy to stay that way, then think about the things your last relationship made you lose track of and throw yourself back into it. Whether it was a book club, traveling, dancing or even a softball team. One of the ageless attitude’s hallmarks is a passionate mindset driven by curiosity.
Your body is being made older by your attitude and your lifestyle choices and your age may be higher than your actual age or much lower, based on those habits and decisions you make. Think about this. If you have a major stressor in your life, such as a lawsuit, a loss, divorce or other traumatic events, it can add decades to your biological age.
If you were to manage that stress effectively, it would only add a few. One of the major aspects of life that impacts your ageless attitude is stress. It’s something that affects you both physically and mentally, it doesn’t just weigh on your mind it produces real physical effects that can lead to serious health problems. It’s incredibly difficult to maintain your ageless attitude when your body and mind are battling against you trying to turn your thoughts down the road of negativity.
While it may sound like it’s a lot of work to stay on top of all of these things, in truth, it’s less effort than clawing your way back after failing to do these things. When you truly look after yourself, everything tends to fall into place and it becomes second nature to practice good behaviors and make good choices.
Don’t worry if you haven’t been making the right decisions so far, you can make changes now to improve your overall health and get that ageless attitude you have been craving. For example, if you were to change your diet and eat more monounsaturated fats, ditch trans fats, and limit your intake of saturated fats you can take years off that biological age.
Take an active approach to your day to shave more years off of your biological age, which means moving around every hour if you’re normally seated and getting plenty of exercise. Having close friends can also help you lower your biological age.
That saying that you areonly as old as you feel might actually be true, but your lifestyle and choices may be impacting exactly how you feel. So, it’s time to take half an hour out of your day to sit down with a pen and paper and take stock of your life.
Don’t beat yourself up over poor choices from your past, this exercise is simply about determining where you could make improvements.
Take a long look at your diet, consider your vices, what bad habits have you formed over the years, do you get enough exercise?
All of this could be sapping your ability to have an ageless attitude – the key to feeling ageless is understanding that it doesn’t matter how old you are – you can do anything you set your mind (and body) to. You just have to go out there and grab it.