Our Beliefs About Old Age  
Vijai P. Sharma, Ph. D

Since childhood, we have seen our grandparents, parents, and other people close to us grow old.  Our experiences are full of people becoming frail, their mind weakening, memory gradually impaired, their eyesight and hearing diminished. Then, one day, right in front of our eyes, their bodies "shut off'," leaving them dead. These are very powerful impressions. Our young and impressionable minds form a picture of how and when we ourselves would become old and die.

All these sensory impressions may affect our beliefs and attitudes regarding aging. What we learn about aging "corrupts" us. All the so called facts, beliefs, and conceptions about old age go in the databank and are drawn from where the "program" is written about our own aging process. Some scientists in the process of aging we are just following the "script" written by our mind.

First we grow old in mind and then we grow old in body. We know what to expect of old age and thus we limit ourselves. But since we learn these limitations, we can also change them. There is nothing fixed about the life span and everything is inherited. If genes were the sole dictators of our life-span, how come each generation lives longer than the previous one? A bold theory of aging suggests that if we free ourselves of the self limiting beliefs, we may stretch our genes to healthier and further frontiers.

If the honey bee "workers" and "soldiers" drastically drop in numbers, threatening the work and maintenance of their beehive, their organisms are programmed to shift the hormones and reverse the process of aging. Instead of becoming older and dying, they start becoming younger. My guess is that the bees don't question this system because they are not conscious "beings." On the other hand, we humans would simply laugh if it was presented to us as a mere possibility. Even the idea that process of aging is determined by physical as well as psychological conditions is too far-fetched for most of us.

Only human beings are conscious of their aging. We celebrate birthdays which impress on us every year that we are one year closer to old age and death. Actually the practice of birthdays came about due to the fear that we might not be able to make it to another year; the odds being so heavy against life. So when another year would pass, the folks would have a cause for celebration, "Hey! one more year gone and I am still here!"

We have definite ideas about how long childhood should last, when middle age ends, and old age starts. No other animal counts its age in years or ~s "I'm now middle aged or "I am a senior citizen now. I will soon be the nursing home material." Many people, as they start getting older, eliminate actions that could help them stay young and fit. 

"I shouldn't be laughing and jumping up and down like a kid. " Yet the more child like, humorous, and playful the older folks are, the more we like them. There was a reason why the old age was called "the second childhood." Let's live up to it. 

Nelson Mandella, the President of South Africa, a fountainhead of untiring energy and zeal now "estimated" to be in his seventies, was once asked by a lady, "How old are you?" "I don't know" he answered. "When were you born?" she asked. He replied, "I don't know that either." "You are a fool!" she said annoyingly. He said, "I think you are right." 

Mandella, often described as a "man of God," truly lives in timelessness. Timelessness is what helped him to come out unscathed after 27 years of imprisonment which was largely solitary. Most people would mentally breakdown in such conditions.

Consciously desire to live long and healthy. Add firm intention to desire. If you exercise with the intention to increase your strength and stamina, you are likely to get better results than you may without such a conscious intention. If someone else exercised your arm without your intention, your arm muscles would hardly engage in the act. The moment you intend to exercise that muscle, it becomes active. Our intention goes directly to our action organs and the mind. Attention follows intention. Muscles develop faster when you pay close attention to them during the exercise. 

Add one more ingredient, the belief. If you believe that those exercises will make you active, healthy, and strong, they perhaps would. It reminds me of the lines of a poem I once read, "If you think, you can't, you can't! If you think you can, you can!"

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor