Dare To Rethink Aging
The uncomfortable truth is that we age-discriminate because we’re subconsciously afraid of getting old so it’s easier to toss old people aside rather than face our “future-selves”.
One day, YOU are going to be called “old” by somebody younger.
How would that feel? Not sure about you but I’m still going to be raving at 60 and there’s a possibility of having a 20-year-old boyfriend at 90. I mean, why not? 🤣 Is it wrong to have moonshot dreams in a world where technology is advancing exponentially?
Many of my friends are decades or more older than me and watching some of them thrive in old age (especially the active ones), with more energy and happiness than people my age, gives me hope and appreciation. I’m not afraid to get older because I know my life is only going to get better. It’s a mindset.
Can we start being the change?
Let’s reframe assumptions about aging.
Why We Need To End Ageism
Age-discriminating is a prejudice that needs to end because it’s driven by fear. Here are some facts:
- One day, you’re going to be old too.
- Age is an abstract concept that’s too far away for a young brain to comprehend.
- Old people are seen as an “economic burden” because they didn’t take care of themselves when they were young. Be the change.
- People “age” because they don’t take care of themselves to prevent cognitive decline.
- We have a chronological age and biological age. You can be 35 with the biological age of 60 if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Older people have the same dreams and feelings.
- Aging is a mindset.
- Accepting we’re all going to die one day will make you appreciate life more, and it’ll feel more “effortless”.
Most Importantly: Learning To Sit In Discomfort
Being afraid of aging means being afraid of death. Grief, loss, heartbreak— the inevitables.
In Buddhism, there is a concept called “Mitakpa” which means all conditioned things are impermanent. Nothing lasts forever (good and bad).
Fear causes us to run away, avoid, or numb the pain with drugs, alcohol, and other distractions. That underlying fear will cause chronic physiological stress in your body which may eventually manifest itself into a physical ailment. The first step to healing is to bring it to awareness— from your unconscious to your conscious, and learn how to sit with that fear.
Accepting we’re all going to die one day will make you appreciate life more, and it’ll feel more “effortless“.
How To Create A New Paradigm For Aging
Take Care Of Your Brain
People are living longer than ever and if you take care of yourself now, you don’t have to suffer in old age. Not having a fully functional brain with a growth mindset is a sure way to suffer at old age. Good thing is that you can start early, and it’s never too late to start!
As a younger generation, we can end the “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” mentality by working on your mindsets when you’re young so you don’t get stuck in “old ways” like previous generations who didn’t have the resources to know better.
The Longevity Economy
Older people are a huge resource for society: they’re wiser and make substantial contributions to the economy through philanthropy and purchases.
In the US, 70% of charitable donations are from people over 50 for a total of $100 billion per year.
The longevity economy is estimated at $7.1 trillion in the US and is projected to grow as the population ages.
By 2035, older adults are projected to outnumber children.
Aging isn’t a crisis. It’s an opportunity.
Unless you have hobbies and passions to keep you going, people who retire early have an increased risk of health decline or earlier mortality rates due to a lack of achievement. Our dopamine-driven brains are wired to “do things”— continuously moving forward because that’s how our entire species evolved. Lack of mental stimulation leads to cognitive decline.
In Victor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search For Meaning”, we learned that the secret to living is to have a purpose.
I “retired” for 2 years at 28— on a sabbatical. I came back to reality and used to get jealous of my boyfriend going to work! Throughout my 20s, I woke up every day excited for work because I loved my career, and it taught me how important it is to do things you’re passionate about for a satisfied life.
How Your Beliefs Can Make You Age Faster
Beliefs and perceptions can have a profound impact on our physical health and well-being.
One of the mechanisms behind this phenomenon is the mind-body connection. Research has shown that our thoughts and emotions can influence the production of various neurochemicals in the body, including hormones and neurotransmitters.
For example, positive emotions such as gratitude and joy have been shown to increase the production of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which can have a range of positive effects on the body, including reducing stress and improving immune function.
Negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and depression can trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can have a negative impact on various aspects of health, including immune function, cardiovascular health, and cognitive function.
In addition, studies have shown that our beliefs and perceptions can influence our behavior and lifestyle choices, which can in turn have a significant impact on our physical health.
Don’t succumb to other people’s opinions.
If you surround yourself with people telling you that you’re “too old”, that’ll influence your beliefs because you’ll be less likely to engage in healthy activities such as regular exercise or socializing which will lead to a range of health problems.
On the other hand, if we believe that we’re “young forever”, we’ll make decisions that drive us toward adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
I’m definitely all about the latter.
How To Reverse Aging
In the “Counterclockwise Study” conducted in 1979, psychologist Ellen Langer and her team placed a group of elderly men in a retreat that was designed to recreate the physical and social environment of their younger selves. They were encouraged to engage in activities that were common during their younger years and to act as if they were 20 years younger.
Just one week in this environment, they showed significant improvements in physical and mental health— their cognitive abilities improved along with better vision, hearing, and manual dexterity. Blood tests showed that the participants had experienced a “rejuvenation” of their immune systems— and their biological markers of aging had improved!
These results suggest that our environment and mindset can have a significant impact on our biological age.
Strategies To Age Gracefully
We age because we become a prisoner of our own minds. Knowing that you can create your own reality, why wouldn’t you?
- Strong relationships are the number one predictor of happiness and longevity according to the longest scientific study done on happiness. People with strong relationships have lower levels of anxiety and depression and are less likely to suffer from physical ailments such as heart disease because it provides mental and emotional stimulation and support. Good relationships protect your brain.
- Minimize interaction with negative people. Toxic relationships will make you sick.
- Exercise. Many of us age quicker because of cognitive decline but exercise is the best thing you can do for your brain. Why? It’s the best way to stimulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), fertilizer for your brain. Being an athlete, I can spot the mental and physical differences between those who exercise regularly, and those who don’t! Sorry but it’s an uncomfortable truth.
- Return to activities that brought you happiness when you were little— riding bikes, drawing, writing, games, joining a choir. Do you!!
- Knowing when to let go of the things that don’t matter. Life is short. Pay attention to what makes you happy now.
- Surround yourself with people of all ages so you’re able to see all perspectives. Don’t get trapped in a bubble.
- Hang out with healthy people with good habits because they’re going to age better. You’re the average of your environment.
- Know that you can restart life at 60, 70, 80.
Nowadays, if you make it to 65 you have a 50% chance you’ll make it to 85. Another 8000 days! That’s no longer a trip to Disney, waiting for the grandchildren to visit, and dying of the virus you get on a cruise. We’re talking about rethinking, redefining one-third of adult life! The greatest achievement in the history of humankind.Dr. Joseph F. Coughlin, MIT Agelab
My Secret To Staying “Young Forever”
Think of an age that you were when you were the happiest— maybe you were free from stress or going through a paradigm shift.
Mine was 27 when I left a successful career, ended an 11-year relationship, moved to LA, and traveled the world. I was like a kid in a candy store! The entire world opened up as I discovered abundance, adventures, and opportunities. I was so wild and free.
These days, I tell myself, “I am 27 forever.”
Even when I’m 50, 60, or 70, I know my mindset is going to be as if I was 27.
I was at my friend’s daughter’s first birthday a while ago and looking around the room where the best EDM DJ was spinning with a bouncy castle for the kids right beside him. 🤣 I was thinking how everyone in this room use to party so hard but now everyone has kids… yet I’m the same as if I was still underaged clubbing and loving life… just wiser.
Not sure about you, but I’m going to have fun forever, and not let anyone tell me otherwise.
Bonus: Supplements For Aging
- Resveratrol: A compound found in red wine, grapes, and some berries. It has been found to activate sirtuins, which are proteins that play a role in cellular aging and metabolism.
- Nicotinamide riboside (NR): A form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of NAD+, a molecule involved in energy metabolism and DNA repair that declines with age.
- Metformin: A drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, which has been found to have anti-aging effects in some studies. It may work by activating AMPK, an enzyme that plays a role in energy metabolism.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish, flaxseed, and other sources, omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of age-related diseases like heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Coenzyme Q10: An antioxidant that is naturally produced by the body but declines with age. It plays a role in energy production and may help protect against oxidative damage.
- Curcumin: A compound found in turmeric, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may help protect against age-related cognitive decline and other conditions.
Disclaimer: It's important to note that while these supplements have potential benefits, they should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Some supplements may interact with medications or have side effects, and the quality of supplements can vary widely. It's also important to remember that supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- One day, someone younger is going to call you “old”. 👵🏼
- Just because you’re 60 doesn’t mean you have to “feel” 60.
- Your thoughts, beliefs, and environment can make you age faster.
- No matter what age, we’re human beings with dreams and feelings.
- Stay healthy and happy in old age by taking care of your brain health.
- Strong relationships are the number one indicator for a long and happy life.
- You have a chronological age (actual age) and a biological age (based on health).
- Aging is an abstract concept to the young mind so we don’t plan far enough into the future.
- Ageism exists because everyone is afraid to age so we subconsciously discriminate against the elderly.
- Being afraid of aging means being afraid of death but we can rewire our minds to accept “nothing lasts forever”.