Age Really IS a Matter of Perception!

It can now be said with authority that you really ARE only as old as you feel! I’ve noticed in my travels how people age differently depending on the expectations of their culture. In Scottsdale, Arizona, women in their 70’s are vibrant, beautiful and in great shape. At least the ones who go where I dance frequently. The men are also still able to cut a rug with great energy far beyond what we would have called “elderly” when I was a kid.

New York Times reports in this study by psychologist Ellen Langer there are not only psychological benefits to feeling younger, but powerful health benefits as well. In everything from diabetes to prostate cancer, healing times to productivity, how you feel about your age has more to do with your success than your actual age.

Her colleagues have this to say about Langer,

“She’s one of the people at Harvard who really gets it,” Rediger told me. “That health and illness are much more rooted in our minds and in our hearts and how we experience ourselves in the world than our models even begin to understand.”

In times of clarity in my life, I’ve been able to get through difficulties with simple mind exercises. When I forget to do those, I don’t fare as well. One of my mind tricks is to remind myself of the magic word EVENTUALLY “Eventually everything works itself out” is a great way to gain some perspective and to shift the victim mentality. I also like to mutter when frustrated with how things are going, “In 200 years, we’ll ALL be dead.” For some reason that cheers me up and helps me get a grip on reality. I also use Anne Lamotte’s phrase, “In a hundred years, all new people!”

Another mantra that has helped is, “I live a charmed life. I’m amazed at how so many things go well for me.” I’ve said this when bookings have canceled and situations looked dire. Somehow things did work out for the best. When they finally do, I’m always quick to be grateful for the outcomes. A grateful heart is another way to stay young

The opposite of this is also true. When we say, “Life sucks.” Or “Nothing ever works out for me.” We are training our brain for that to be true. We are asking our brain to look for things to get in our way so we can be right that our life isn’t working. As my dad used to say, “If you keep telling your brain, ‘I’m fat, I’m fat.’ Your brain is gonna take you out for a hot fudge sundae!”

Life really is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you catch yourself shooting yourself in the foot with your negative thinking, how about changing the subject on yourself. Instead of “this is hard.” Say, “Wow, this is a challenge! I can’t wait to see how I solve this one!” Instead of “I never do anything right,” how about, “What’s the lesson from that silly decision?”  I’m not advocating Pollyanna thinking, I’m just saying there are a lot of people out there who’d like to stop your progress in the world. You shouldn’t be one of them.

I still think I’m 42. I act like I’m 22 sometimes. I used to think I needed to grow the hell up. But maybe that’s why I don’t look or feel my age! Life is good! Maybe that’s how I won all those Olympic Weightlifting trophies in the above picture when I was in my early 40’s! I forgot I was 40!

Feed your body AND your brain good thoughts and you’ll fare much better.  Now, get out there and dance! It’s good for the soul.

Have a great week!


© 2014 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved


About Beth Terry

Beth Terry, CSP, is a speaker, coach, writer and cowgirl. Her audiences are from around the world: she has spoken to almost half a million people in 6 countries. Her passion is watching the "popcorn popper" go off in people's heads when they 'get it.'

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