Guest column/Attitude important for health
Yep, another “significant” birthday has come and gone. AARP has extended membership benefits to me for … well, some time now. And while I could be considered chronologically enhanced, I don’t consider age to be the topmost descriptor of my individuality. No way!
Age is a perception thing. The sooner we drop the stubborn views of aging from our constant contemplation, the better for our health. I am thinking of deleterious assessments like mental weakness, physical feebleness, illness – and the anxieties they all perpetuate. Must aging be repeatedly linked with these complaints?
“Perception by the five personal senses is mental,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, “and dependent on the beliefs that mortals entertain.”
Believing that age must come with significant drawbacks only perpetuates those shortcomings. I guess you could say, you are what you believe.
Hopefully, what you believe is not working against your well-being. Because before “old” perceptions about wellness can be enhanced, you have to sack attitudes that leave you set in your “old” ways and believing that you can’t teach an “old” dog new tricks.
A study published by the American Psychological Association reports, “Self-perceptions of aging had a greater impact on survival than did gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and functional health.” Their conclusion: “positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.”
Fostering positive self-perceptions that promote better health requires some redefining:
* Redefine what age means to you. A new study commissioned by AARP the Magazine looks at how people feel about aging, what defines it and the prejudices surrounding it. The take-away seems to indicate that the definition of age changes the older we get. In other words, we might be approaching old age, but we never quite get there.
* Redefine yourself. Associate age with positive attributes such as wisdom, loyalty, patience and generosity. Jettison from your daily estimations accepted constraints. Experienced … check. Years on planet Earth … nope. Wise … certainly. Obsolete … not a chance! Cultivate a refreshed view of you. The Psalmist presents a viable viewpoint when looking at age from a divine perspective, “He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence.”
* Redefine the connection between age and health. Don’t reinforce perceived limitations. How much do we burden ourselves by piling on misconceptions and fears about the effects of age that we needn’t entertain? It’s Eddy who suggests, “Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom.”
Correcting “old” dogged assumptions about aging and its parallel health concerns can give a fresh perspective on you.
Satchel Paige once asked an intriguing question, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” You decide.
(Salt is a writer and blogger covering health, spirituality and thought. He is a Christian Science practitioner.)