How to Stay Young
There is a relentless pursuit of youth in our society today. Next door to my favorite restaurant is a “Botox Spa ” with a blackboard out front detailing the day’s specials on medical cosmetic procedures. Commercials are all over TV, social media and the Internet urging us to use this drug, that cosmetic, or the other exercise equipment or technique to lose weight, stop wrinkles and maintain a youthful body.
The surprising thing is that research shows consistently that what really works to keep people youthful by scientific definitions is internal, not external. A positive attitude, good connections with friends and family, and a sense of purpose are the top-rated scientifically proven components of a long, happy and youthful life.
I love the way George Carlin put it:
HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Having a positive outlook is a big part of staying young. From what I’ve seen and experienced in my 72 years, there are three sure-fire ways of maintaining a positive outlook and being happy.
1. Gratitude: When you consciously acknowledge all that you have and are you will change your outlook immediately. Instead of complaining about wrinkles or aches, give thanks that you’re healthier than so many others, and appreciate what you have. Any time you feel down, count your blessings or write a gratitude list.
2. Learning: Learn something new to keep your brain and mind fresh and growing. You can still be or do whatever you’ve always wanted. You can learn what you always wanted to know. Learn a language, or how to play music, or to dance, or to sail a boat. It will literally keep your mind younger. Growing new neurons (which is what happens when we learn something) renews your brain. There are senior versions of any gymnastics, dance, theater or sport you always wanted to be able to do. Senior universities give you low-cost or free access to all kinds of classes and activities.
3. New experiences: Meet some new people, go to a new place, try something different. It will refresh your outlook, and remind you of what you have to offer others. Doing step 2 qualifies as having a new experience, but so does travel, and doing anything you haven’t done before. 4. Do something for someone else. Volunteer, babysit, help a neighbor, give away something you don’t need any more. Pass on what you know. Mentoring someone younger is amazingly uplifting and energizing. The ability to give reminds us that we have so much.
5. Pamper yourself: This only works when you haven’t been doing it. Take a day for yourself, have a massage, sit in a park and breathe in nature, have your favorite lunch. It’s like rebooting your computer; it’s rejuvenating. Regular self-pampering will keep your mental machinery humming.
6. Stay connected; or make new connections: People don’t often realize the importance of companionship until later in life. Staying fit and physically and socially active increases your odds of finding someone to date, and also increases your libido and your chances of successful sex. When you feel good about yourself, you are at your most attractive. But, beware of too much focus on the surface, and not enough content. Such relationships quickly become empty and stressful. If you want to make more connections, or even find a romance, I recommend pursuing your interests in a group fashion. Taking classes, supporting causes, or getting involved in civic, church or social groups will not only help you stay young, it will also keep you interested, socially connected, and give you a chance to find someone with whom you have something in common. It’s never too late for to fulfill your dreams.
Author Bio: Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 35 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage; The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty; Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, The Real 13th Step and her newest, How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter. Dr. Tessina was the CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for Love Forever. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, TV, video and podcasts. She tweets @tinatessina
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