Boomers Are Right, Its All in Your Mind!
Deepak Chopra says that THE most important way to stay young is to change your perceptions about your age. Is he right?
In Ageless Body: Timeless Mind, he tells of a study done on people of the WWII generation. People in their 70’s were given full physicals.
Then they spent a week in a resort with just each other. The environment was totally controlled. The radios were set up to play Big Band music and the news and dramatic programming was from the 40’s. They were told to talk about things that happened when they were young.
After immersing themselves in the times when they were young, as if they were young, thinking young, they were given second physicals. Blood pressure was lower and other vital statistics had all improved!
A 50th Anniversary in 1962
My Grandparents, Orval and Alberta
Grandma and Grandpa were 71 and 72 on their 50th anniversary. They looked much older by today’s standards. But they fit right in with the times.
In their lifetime, there were rules for how people dressed and acted depending on what decade of their life they were living. Even in that more uptight era, women stopped wearing bras at a certain age. Bras weren’t for old ladies.
People expected to age and were told just how to do it. Most of them complied.
A 50th anniversary in 1985
My parents, Fritz and Marjorie Arrowsmith.
Mom and Dad were 68 on their anniversary. A mere 3 to 4 years difference. Not much when you are in your late 60’s-70’s. And remember, my mom comes from their gene pool.
At first glance my parents look much more youthful. Look closer, what is the difference really? Not really significantly fewer wrinkles (mom and grandma both had beautiful skin to the end). Grandpa and Dad both have on nice suits Grandma’s dress is more dowdy. But that is just a symptom, not why her essence is older.
Mom and Dad were also products of their times. They never had a gym membership and ate bologna sandwiches with butter almost every day. They also went along with the expected standards, and they were almost as rigid as for Mom’s parents.
The times were a little more forgiving, but more importantly, I think, is that all their friends were at least 10 years younger than they were. At 91, Dad still won’t go to a Senior Center because he doesn’t like to hang around with ‘old people’. I remind him that most of the people at the center would be a good 10 to 20 years younger than he is, but no, he is not interested. His current best friend is 45 to his 91.
Am I saying that the key is to only be with younger people? Of course not. In the first place that would be impossible for everyone to do, but age integrated social circles are possible. The key is to perceive that you are younger than you are.
It helps to be around people who have the same philosophy and mind set. Chopra was right!
BTW, even Chopra writes about eating well and exercise, they are still important, but that mental attitude is the name of the game.
Look at those pictures again. Both couples are proud and happy with a light in their eyes. But it is a different kind of light. One is active, while the other isn’t. I remember Mom at 75 challenging herself to climb all the way to the top of the Lincoln Monument, something that Grandma would never have thought of doing, even at a much younger age. Mom knew it would be a challenge, but perceived that she could. Grandma probably perceived that she couldn’t in her 30’s, and she would not have been able to.
Perception is the difference between a light in the eye and an active, young light in the eye.
“This Is What 40 Looks Like”
Gloria Steinem Breaks Ground on the Aging Front.
She is a beautiful woman who has lead a life of activism.
Since her field was feminism reporters were fascinated with her beauty. They seemed to think that was a contradiction. Now there is an untrue perception.
She often heard them remark, “You look so young for 40”
She is famous for the response, “This is what 40 looks like”. And of course, she was right. If she was 40 and looked like that, then 40 looks, or can look like that.
Today we are used to seeing 40 year olds who look like she did 30 years ago. The perception now is that people can age well, and more and more are doing it. See how it works!
Did every 40 year old look like her? No. Does every 60+ year old look like Suzanne Somers or Harrison Ford? No. But we all know people that age who look very good. Thus that is what that age looks like. It also looks older than that and younger than that.
The point is that the reporters 30 years ago had a picture of what a particular age should look like, just like in my parents and grandparents age. They were so convinced that they questioned anyone who didn’t match their perceptions.
Your age is what you perceive it to be.