Getting older is inevitable, but growing old is optional.
By Stephanie Hertzenberg
Shutterstock.comPeople have been obsessed with the idea of staying young for millennia. The ancient Mesopotamian hero Gilgamesh went hunting for a way to achieve eternal youth. Loki was sent to retrieve Idunn and her golden apples. In more concrete history, early Spanish explorers went hunting for the Fountain of Youth in Florida. People want to be young and healthy. They have, however, consistently confused the concepts of getting older and growing old. Getting older is more or less inevitable. As each year passes, you get a bit older. That does not, however, mean you have to grow old. Growing old means losing energy, losing hope and letting go of the spark of passion that made life worth living. There is no reason to see this sad state as some sort of inevitability. You may not be able to do much about your hair turning grey, your skin wrinkling or your spine compressing, but you can continue to stay young at heart for every one of your days on Earth. Whether you grow old or remain youthful is up to you. If you want to dodge old age, here are six ways to stay forever young by keeping both youthful habits and a more joyful mindset.
Languages and Instruments
Shutterstock.comOne thing that everyone knows is that your wits dull as you get older. This, however, does not have to be the case. If you sit around doing nothing with your brain, then it will begin to deteriorate. You will have trouble remembering things, thinking quickly or dealing with more complex matters. This does not have to be the case. Your brain is just like your muscles. If you use it regularly, it will get stronger. If you never engage it, it will atrophy.
When it comes to keeping your brain young, not all brain buster exercises are created equally. Crosswords and Sudoku may be the classic games of older people, but if you want your brain to stay young, you need to pick something more challenging. The best ways to stave off neuron death and dementia are to learn either a new language or how to play a new instrument. So, if you are interested in eternal youth, dust off that old high school French book or pick up a guitar.
Shutterstock.comLaughter really is medicine for the soul. The simple act of laughing, even if you are not truly amused, can turn a bad day around and lift your mood. As people age, they tend to get grumpy and irritable since they can no longer do all the things they used to do. Combat that attitude by laughing as often and as loudly as you can. Make sure you laugh at yourself as well. Aging brings with it wonderful opportunities to laugh at the ridiculous things an older body may do. If your hearing is poor and you are convinced that your nephew “bought up a golf course” when he actually “brought home his girlfriend,” laugh at it. That is a hilarious story for later. There will inevitably be similar moments in your future. Learn to laugh at them so you can take the little oopsies of age in stride.
Shutterstock.comFew things will improve your life for the better than deciding to have a grateful mindset. When you focus on the good and the things you are grateful for rather than obsessing over what you feel you are missing, you begin to see your life as being full of blessings and joy. Instead of worrying about the things that have gone wrong, you focus on the myriad of things that go right every day. This will keep you happier and feeling a youthful sort of joy each day.
In addition to improving your overall outlook on life, practicing gratitude has been shown to help stave off depression and anxiety as well as help to improve those conditions if you already have them. Given that both are more common in old age, possessing a thankful heart becomes even more important as you get older.
Shutterstock.comOne thing that many older people deal with is the slow failure of the body. Elderly people are more likely to deal with issues such as strokes and heart attacks. They are also far more likely to accidentally do serious damage, such as breaking a bone, with a minor accident, such as tripping and falling. This is because their body has become more fragile as they aged. This can be prevented in large part, however, by simply using your body more often.
As you get older, do not stop exercising. Instead, continue to work out until the very end. This will keep your bones strong, muscles limber and joints steady so you are less likely to fall, and if you do, you will be less likely to deal with more serious injuries. If you are struggling with balance or arthritis, you do not have to do heavy weight lifting or run for miles. Switch to light weights or bodyweight exercises and go for a long powerwalk. Listen to your body to avoid injury, but never give up on moving.
Do What You Love
Shutterstock.comDo not let age force you to abandon the things you love to do. That is when you go from getting older to growing old. Continue to pursue your passions and hobbies even into old age, and never let anyone tell you that you are too old to do so. If you love to travel, continue to travel. There are many older people that take advantage of retirement by finally visiting those places they never got to go.
Even if your body is wearing out, you can continue with adventurous or active hobbies as well. Former president George H. W. Bush went skydiving to celebrate his 80th, 85th and 90th birthdays. You do not have to jump out of an airplane as a birthday present to yourself, but do not give up on what you love to do. Even if you cannot physically do what you once did, find a way to get as close to that as possible. You might not be able to free-solo mountain cliffs anymore, but you could still go hiking through those same peaks and smile at the stone walls you once scaled.
Choose Young Friends
Shutterstock.comThey say that you are a composite of the five people with whom you spend the most time. If this is the case, you sure do not want to be hanging around people who are old in their heart, mind and soul when you are trying to stay forever young. You will not be able to bring them back to a youthful mindset, but they can sure drag you into the thinking patterns of someone who is old. Instead, surround yourself with people who are young at heart. Enjoy the company of people who are both young and older than you are physically. The younger people can help keep you in a youthful mindset even as you provide an example of how to age without growing old. By the same token, the people who are older than you physically but remain young at heart will remind you that your youth will not expire when your next birthday rolls around. Shutterstock.comYou get older every year, but that does not mean you ever have to grow old. With a few lifestyle changes, you can continue to be young until the day you die. No one, however, can do it for you. You can use botox until you are wrinkle free and dye your hair every day while still being old. On the other hand, you can have wrinkles deep enough to lose a sandwich in and still be young and youthful. So, which will it be? Will you get older or grow old? The choice is yours.