Attitude Is Everything: Feeling 20 When You’re 50 Plus
Aging can be a scary concept especially for those of us who are getting closer to that time in our lives. The truth there is nothing we can do about it. It’s a part of life. But, we can do something about how we feel, act and live our lives, no matter our age.
To feel young no matter your age, is possible!
At University College London, two researchers carried out a study with the help of 6500 men and women whose age was 50 and above. They were asked one question: “How old do you feel you are?”
The majority – almost 75% – said they felt they were 3 or 4 years younger than their actual age, while around 20% felt around their actual age and %5 said they felt older by about a year.
The researchers picked up 8 years later to follow up with those who had participated in the study. A little less than 70% of those who said they felt older were still alive, while more than 80% of those who said they felt younger were alive.
The 2 researchers reached the conclusion that those who felt younger than their actual age had a lower death rate than those who felt their age or older…
“Feeling younger or older itself seems to have an effect on our health,” says Dr. Ronald D. Siegel, part-time assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
But it wasn’t just that feeling a certain way was keeping them alive. It was that those who believed they were younger made better choices by eating right and exercising around 30 minutes each day.
Those who feel old probably won’t take the time to engage in physical activities but would rather chalk it up to old age. Also, those who feel psychologically young will be more careful about what they eat and turn it into an enjoyable experience in their lifestyle.
An important aspect of feeling young is how people view their possibilities in life. There are some things that people who feel young do each day to preserve their young-at-heart attitude:
• They develop a sense of what’s important in life. They enjoy connecting to others and to something bigger than themselves. They take part in hobbies they enjoy, or by going out with friends.
• They practice mindfulness. They’re present in the moment. Whatever they do, wherever they are, they’re focused and completely in tune with the details of the moment. They take in the sights and sounds, rather than focus on past regrets or hopelessness.
• They challenge themselves. It could be learning a new skill, joining a book club or volunteering at a local shelter – they find ways to stay motivated and active.
• There is also a lot to be said for general mindset. Those who have preconceived stereotypical notions of how one is “supposed to be” at a certain age, will more than likely act that way. So, if you think being 60 means that you should be napping and resting most of the day, then you will likely do so. If you think you are “too old to do this or that,” you likely won’t.
Conversely, there are those who are running marathons at 60, working at 70 and even at 90. Betty White once said, “There’s no spare time, so I’m active all the time. I think that forces you to stay well. To be 90 and still be working — that’s what I wouldn’t have expected. I’m the luckiest broad on two feet.”
It’s not that these people are in denial of the aging process, it’s that those who feel they’re younger than they are enjoy their time more and aren’t self-conscious about speaking their minds. “It’s good for us to think we’re a little better than we actually are.
It’s associated with feelings of hope and well-being,’’ says Dr. Jacqui Smith, a psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.
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