Aging is another example of how stories have real life consequences.
Some myths about aging…
- We’ll have less energy and passion
- The body goes downhill
- We don’t bounce back and recover as when we were young
- Life becomes drugery and less juicy
- We can’t learn as well as before
- We are stuck in old patterns
Still, just looking at aging from common knowledge about health in general, and all the research on aging in particular, we see that none of these are necessarily true.
If we eat poorly for years and years, is that not going to have an effect? If we are chronically sleep deprived, maybe for several decades, wouldn’t that impact our ability to bounce back? If we continue to accumulate thoughts to believe in, are we not going to rigidify and create a prison for ourselves? If we continue to not seek out learning new things, is that not going to create stagnation? If we don’t explore what is meaningful for us, and engage in meaningful activities, is that not going to lead to despair and hopelessness?
So much of what we associate with aging is just the cumulative effects of behaviors we know are detrimental to our health. And when it goes on for years and decades, the effects are going to be quite noticeable. We may take it as aging, but large portions of it are easily explained by the accumulated effects of poor diet, lack of sleep and exercise, not continuing to learn new skills and knowledge, and continuing to believing in thoughts which imprison us.
And some of the things we know helps keep us fluid and life juicy for us…
- Having a good diet, appropriate for us and our current situation. This also includes being well hydrated.
- Regular physical activity.
- Get enough sleep regularly.
- Learning new skills and knowledge, especially in areas we have not explored earlier. (If we have a desk job, then learn to dance, yoga, go hiking. If we do landscaping, then develop our cognitive skills and learning. If we interact with people a lot, then do meditation or sit quietly and watch the sunrise. If we are quiet, then interact with others more.) Challenging ourselves and learning and doing something new grows new connections in the brain, and we also continue to learn how to learn. This also gives resiliency in many areas of our health.
- Finding and nurturing rewarding relationships with others.
- Finding and nurturing meaning and meaningful activities.
- And, if we are lucky enough to learn forms of inquiry that works for us, then inquire into our beliefs – allowing our mental prison to unravel one thread at a time, and eventually in larger chunks.
- In short, nurture nurturing relationships in all areas – body, mind, social, ecological – and spiritual as well.
Kids are naturally curious about the world, always learning something new in all areas of their lives – socially, physically and mentally. Instead of seeing this as a product of youth, it can equally well be seen as that which maintains youthfulness – a childlike relationship with the world.