Do you believe that as we age, we will become what we think we will become?
I certainly do. I remember turning 40 and noticing that my size 36-inch-waist pants were getting tight. I commented to myself that I was 40, and that is what happens as we get older.
I guess I expected to continue to increase in size and weight as I aged. With that thinking, I set course to our local Belk’s to shop for a few more pairs of pants that were the next size larger.
Then it hit me. This is insane! Why should I accept this as the normal course of growing older? If this is the case, where and when does it end?
It ended right there and then. Over the next six months, I lost close to
50 pounds; dropped 5 inches off my waist size and had to punch a new hole in my belt. Also, I kept my pants because I am thrifty. It actually was pretty amazing to see how I could fold under the extra inches of material to make my pants stay on, which is why my belt became such an important accessory.
That was 15 years ago. Although my weight and waist-size both have increased slightly in recent years, overall I’m living healthier now than I was then.
Seems like I’m not the only one who believes positive thinking is important. Yale University Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Psychology Dr. Becca Levy, who has researched this idea for almost 20 years, found that having a positive approach to aging (increased wisdom, self-realization, satisfaction and generally being vital and robust) versus negative images (feeling useless, helpless and devalued) is associated with a 7 1/2-year difference in average lifespan.
In other words, the positive people lived longer.
Levy studied people older than 50 regarding their perceptions about growing older. She followed a group of 660 adults from 1975-98.
At the beginning of the study, they completed a survey designed to elicit stereotypes about aging. Statements like “Things keep getting worse as I get older” and “As you get older, you get less useful” were answered positively or negatively.
The participants with positive scores outlived those who answered negatively. People with a positive bias were more likely to exercise, eat well, limit alcohol, be non-smokers and have had preventive health care. All of these good characteristics are consistent with managing one’s life in a positive manner.
Obviously, it’s not enough to think positively. Positive thoughts must go through metamorphosis and translate into healthy actions, which seem to be the real reasons people live longer. But it has to start somewhere, and a positive mind is a good place to start.
According to U.S. News & World Report, for the next 19 years, an average of 10,000 people a day will turn 65 years of age. Our baby boomers have become a virtual senior tsunami. Obviously, there is great potential in staying engaged, productive and contributing to overall quality of life as we age into our 70s and beyond.
The current paradigm of old age has got to go. The fallacy of judging another person’s state of mind, actions or behaviors based on our own personal biases propagates the misconceptions about aging. Slowing down and sleeping in a rocking chair is not a bad thing — but I’m not ready to do that.
There really is no typical “older personality.” Yet, that is what our culture expects us to think. It’s time to think differently, my friends.
Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or go to www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com.