Thursday, September 12, 2013

On Being Young and Vital At Any Age

I go to the library almost everyday, and even when I may already be in the middle of reading something, I often browse for something new anyway, because you just never know when you may find something really great and totally unexpected that just happens to be there today, but may not be there the next time you look.

Well, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind was one such book. It was on my to-read list a few years ago, but back then it wasn't in the public library system, and so, not being a high priority, I just sort of put it out of my mind, until I saw it on the shelf a few weeks ago and checked it out. Though reading through it, I realized it really wasn't for me after all, it was just a bit too Christian, with way too many references to God and faith healing. Although there is some good stuff in there, don't get me wrong, it just wasn't the right time for me to read the whole thing, but what I did do was skim over it and took a few notes, jotting down passages that I liked, like this one on aging:

"You grow old when you lose interest in life, when you cease to dream, to hunger after new truths, and to search for new worlds to conquer. When our mind is open to new ideas and new interests and when you raise the curtain and let in the sunshine and inspiration of new truths of life and the universe, you will be young and vital." -Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

I would have to agree with that. But it's not just about aging well, it's about living well at any age. That to a large extent our mental outlook shapes not only our experience of aging, but our quality of life. Yes, health is a huge huge factor. You are as old as you feel. And sometimes what you feel, emotionally and mentally, really is a reflection of, or a response to, the actual physical health of your body. And if you are in poor health, your mental outlook also may not be very good.

While it is not impossible, it is certainly more challenging for a sickly person to feel mentally vibrant, optimistic, and young at heart. But, at the same time, if you are in relatively good health, that is, not suffering from any major debilitating diseases, or painful disabilities, but your only affliction is that you are growing older, and perhaps becoming a bit weaker and slower, and maybe not seeing or hearing or even remembering as well as you used to, it is still possible to retain your health into old age, and to feel young and vibrant at any age.

In other words, poor health may negatively affect one's mental outlook, but at the same time, a poor mental outlook will negatively affect one's physical health. And because it's easier to preserve health than it is to regain it once its lost, the sooner you start living healthfully and thinking youthfully the better. If you can do that, you will increase your chances of being young and vital for the rest of your life.

Sometimes though, people are living a healthy lifestyle, thinking good thoughts, having a high quality of life, but they still get sick. That's a shame. Sometimes illnesses have nothing at all to do with a person's individual lifestyle. It's not always a matter of bad choices causing bad outcomes. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. A person who never smokes or drinks may die of lung or liver cancer, and a person who eats healthy and exercises dies of a heart attack. Maybe you suffer from a genetic disorder with a predisposition for certain illnesses. Or maybe you just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, infected, exposed, and struck down. And many diseases could be caused by man-made environmental toxins, in which case some people may have a genetic make-up that offers better protection than others.

The point is there are many factors influencing the state of our health, and how well we age, namely: genetics, lifestyle (diet, exercise, habits), mental outlook, and environment. We don't have control over all these factors, but we do have control over some of them, namely our lifestyle and mental outlook.

Obviously, as we get older, no matter what the causes, we are more likely to get sick. The odds of developing cancer and heart disease and a variety of other ailments increase substantially as we get older. But it is a mistake to assume that aging is synonymous with sickness. Although we will all die eventually, and the older we get, the more likely we will die, it is still possible for a person to live a long life, well into old age, without experiencing a major decline in health or cognition. In other words, a person could be relatively healthy until the day they die. It is possible. It is possible to live to be 100 years old without ever having cancer or heart disease or high blood pressure or high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes or difficulty breathing or difficulty swallowing or difficulty sleeping or difficulty eating.

So long as your body is healthy and your mind is youthful, it is possible to be young and vital at any age.

But, if you still have your health, and yet, you lose your will to learn, to think, to grow, to play, to create, to love, to inspire and to be inspired, and to feel joy and passion and curiosity and wonder and enthusiasm for living, no matter what your age, whether you are young or old, once that's gone, the rest will soon follow. That's what this quote means to me.

*This is post 6 of 20, part of my 20 Posts in 30 Days challenge.

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