The mental ABC’s for being ageless

Somehow, I can’t remember people asking me as a young girl, “How old are you?”
But I’m sure they did. And I’m just as sure that I spoke up proudly when announcing my age.
But the same question now has different overtones.
For one thing, I don’t usually tell my age. Not that I’m embarrassed or that I want to be seen as younger. But I believe chronological age says almost nothing about a person’s real age.
Our 60-something friend, Norman from Toronto, who visited us several years ago, told us he is 20 when he gets up in the morning, by noon he’s 40, and by bedtime he’s 80—and that’s why he goes to bed early.
A better question to ask would be “How young do you feel today?”
That answer is more your real age than any stereotype suggested by your calendar age.
When Bob Hope was nearing 100, he described himself as “many ages.” Or better yet, Dr. Michael Brickey, author of “Defy Aging,” has “B AGELESS” on his licence plate.
People are living longer and healthier lives than any time in recorded history. Consequently, we can expect to live much longer than our parents.
Why waste those added years feeling old.
Researchers say only 30 percent of longevity is genetic. The other 70 percent is up to you.
And in “Defy Aging,” Dr. Brickey defines the “Mental ABCs” of agelessness, saying Attitudes, Beliefs, and Coping skills can help you live longer, healthier, and happier than you ever imagined.
Brickey names four attitudes that can make you look and feel healthier, and more energetic. The first (and most important one in my opinion) is optimism.
“Research has found that optimists are healthier, happier, live longer, and recover from illness better,” Dr. Brickey writes.
And he also says pessimists can learn to be more optimistic.
The other three attitudes are embracing change and learning, feeling gratitude, and dealing with whatever comes.
The book also identifies 36 beliefs that create healthy aging. These beliefs intuitively make sense, but often run counter to our cultural programming.
Dr. Brickey says our minds try very hard to fulfill our beliefs and expectations. Just believing something does not make it happen, but if you believe you will live past 100, it is more likely to happen.
Thus, beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
“I’m really younger than my chronological age.” “I move like a 20-year-old.” “My mind, body, and spirit are constantly renewing themselves.” “I expect to have an enjoyable, exciting life at 150.” “I’m going to be around a long time.”
If we don’t buy into these radical beliefs, we run the risk of shortening our healthy longevity.
The ‘C’ of Dr. Brickey’s “Mental ABCs” is Coping skills. Centenarians serve as our role models.
People who reach age 100 tend to be fairly ordinary people with an “extraordinary psychological edge.” They’re exceptionally good at dealing with loss and change, and they rarely hold on to losses or resentments.
Rather than ruminating about their own problems, past and present, these healthy centenarians focus most of their attention on other people and activities.
So why not decide to become ageless today, with the tools of the “Mental ABCs”: Attitudes, Beliefs, and Coping skills?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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