By A.J. White
If we look to people who have lived to 100 and beyond, what do we see? We likely see people who have lived well with an attitude of gratitude and an outward view, as opposed to focusing on aging.
The concept of successful aging is more holistic than just living longer. Successful aging also means to live well.
Ongoing research into aging and attitude is proving some general predictors of aging and living well. The typical life extenders include no smoking, better health and cognitive abilities, as well as an absence of depression. Aging is much more complex than just the avoidance of disease. There is a trend to active engagement in living and the wisdom of self. This wisdom of one’s self supports successful aging. Older adults need not accept impairment/disease/death as an inevitable process. In short, those who live well and live long “don’t go there.”
Futurist Ray Kurzweil published The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology in 2005. In the book, he predicts a future, in which the human brain can be uploaded to a computer, thus creating functional immortality. While the idea may seem far-fetched to many of us now, or, dare I say, “science fiction-y,” what could be is always a possibility and the human brain has so much power beyond our physical bodies.
But that’s not to say we stop taking care of our bodies in hopes of becoming a computer someday. The important point, I believe, is to keep our bodies well and functioning until science can give us this, or other possibilities, if we choose to live beyond what mankind has known to be the typical lifespan.
There are many suggestions on maintaining our bodies. It seems as though we are inundated daily with new information: A new diet, new super food, a new exercise trend. It boggles the mind. There are 180-degree shifts in research on what is good for you. Some say eggs are bad, some say eggs are essential nutrition. Meat is bad; meat is good, etc. There is no true agreement. Even the experts tout opposing positions. So, how can we know what to do?
Again, look to those who have lived long and well. What do they teach us?
Centenarians typically think young. They usually maintain a positive attitude; they eat good food, not processed junk from a box. Generally, they are socially active and always learning something new. Depression and other psychiatric illnesses are almost nonexistent. They have a spiritual life and an engaged social life.
Living well and longer is much more about attitude: The glass is always half full. Sure, we need to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but it’s equally important to address how we think about ourselves. Use your brain to learn new things, be flexible, appreciate your good life and connect with others. Not too difficult, right?
A.J. White, RN, Ph.D. candidate , is a speaker and author of the book, The Bloomers: Wise Women Creating a New World. The book is the clarion call to awaken women over 50 and empower them to claim their authority and power. Visit www.blommerwise.com.