You are Only as Old 
as You Feel Vijai P. Sharma, PhD.

Jeanne Calment, the French lady who recently celebrated her 120th birthday said, "Age hasn't changed a thing about me." A mental attitude such as this holds the key to the "eternal youthfulness." Her statement indicates that she refuses to accept and even defies other people's notions about aging. If we want to delay the process of aging, we too need to feel, think, and act young in the hopes that the body will take its cues from the mind. Above all, we must want to stay young. 

Of course, it is truism to say, "If you want something to happen, you have to really want it to happen."  Since most of us want to live a long life, we can safely assume that all of us must be entertaining this desire in our minds. Right? Wrong! According to a survey, the majority of people don't want to live up to hundred years of age. Perhaps, we dread the advanced age because all we can visualize about that age is a rocking chair or a feeding tube. Perhaps, we see ourselves being hooked up to some machine and fighting for our next breath. 

However, the hundredth year of one's life doesn't have to end that way. It is possible to live that long and continue to be a healthy, active, and mentally alert person. A conscious desire for such a goal and a belief that one is capable of achieving it is like laying the foundation for the work that is to be completed in the years to come. Wanting to live is very important to stay alive, especially, in the advanced years. The reason that so many people die within the first year of losing their partner is that a lot of them don't really care to live! Remember that fear of dying does not amount to wanting to live. 

Supplement your desire and belief for a long life with action. Act young. Many healthy seniors are quite playful and act energetically. They talk to young people and keep in touch with their own younger days. So "living in the past," if it's rejuvenating, can be beneficial. 

As we grow older, we tend to reminisce more. Seniors reminisce a lot. Reminiscences of the youthful past put them in touch with the energy and vigor that was theirs in those days . Science-fiction novels try to achieve the same purpose. A person of much older age goes back through a time machine and becomes younger.

Actually, it is less of a fiction and more of a science. In an experiment, researchers designed an environment of 1950's. The pictures, painting, music, songs, dresses, and many other items were selected from the era of 1950's. Then the researchers put a group of people in their seventies (they were young adults in the '50's) in this artificially designed environment for several days. 

Staying in this setting was like reliving the era of the 50's. They listened to the songs of the 50's, danced the dances of 50's, dressed in the clothes of the 50's. It was like the time machine rolled back to their youth days. As they lived in that environment for days and nights, the physical and emotional effect of it was electrifying. The participants talked, walked, danced, and moved around with agility as if they had shed dozens of years off them. 

Think young. Our bodies literally enact what our minds think and imagine. If you think or imagine doing something, you are, to some extent, actually doing it. For example, if you imagine climbing a staircase, there will be a subtle motion in the muscles of your legs and other parts of the body involved in the act of climbing.

Take an example of a more complex activity than climbing. If you visualize the most beautiful, loving person in the world is right there close to you, looking at you with loving eyes and massaging your aching shoulders and neck with tender gentle sensual fingers, the blood will rush into the "massaged" areas, muscles will soften, and the hormones and chemicals corresponding to the emotion of being loved will be released. In moments, you will acquire the total physiology of being loved. The fatigued, aching, and sore shoulders and head may feel a lot better. 

So, what must have happened here? In reality you were still sitting alone and visualizing. Nothing else happened, but your body was changed dramatically by your mind. 

Thoughts produce specific chemicals in the brain and thereby produce changes in the body. If we think we are getting old, we will grow old faster. If we think we are more youthful, healthier, stronger, more agile and energetic, we might stay that way a little longer than we would otherwise. Expect to stay young for ever. Why not? Higher expectations yield superior results. 

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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