Life has been compared to a play with three acts. Historically, the first act was comprised of the lessons needed to become autonomous and independent. In the second act we learned to be interdependent, form our own families and choose a career. The purpose of the third and last act was to wait graciously and passively for the curtain to go down.
Not anymore. Baby boomers have discovered that the third act can be the most exciting, adventurous, fun-filled and passionate of all. Here are seven myths about aging and what you can do to dispel them and create a masterpiece of every stage of your life.
Myth #1: As we get older, our mind and body have to degenerate.
Our brains can change at any age. Like a muscle, the more use it gets, the stronger it becomes. Mental exercises such as multiple associations, using the computer, reading the newspaper, games or crossword puzzles and learning new and different tasks can improve our mental clarity and memory.
Myth #2: Life balance only works in theory, not in real life.
Though it takes a conscious and consistent effort, balancing our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health is not just an impossible dream formulated by self-help gurus.
Emotionally, we need to connect with others, share our thoughts and fears, give and receive, and laugh. Loneliness leads to depression and often to suicide. Physically, we need to eat more organic vegetables and fruits and less processed and sugary foods; move more and watch less television. Mentally, we should challenge our brains by doing something different like learning a new language and engaging less in what we already know. Spiritually, we need to create a peaceful inner space by meditating more and complaining less. We can rediscover religion or open our minds to new kinds of spirituality.
Myth #3: We don’t have any choices when it comes to how we age.
We do have choices and the decisions we make today will mean the difference tomorrow between merely surviving or thriving. Every choice will show up later in life as health or disease, joy or sorrow, energy or joy, expression or depression. To be able to choose means we have to live consciously, to know what works and doesn’t work for our unique bodies. We must do our own homework and not blindly follow the advice of others or live a lifestyle that is incongruent with our schedule, family or pocketbook.
Myth #4: It’s the big decisions that impact our lives.
How we age is about consistent, small decisions that we make daily. It’s our habits, not genetic defects or the years lived, that catch up with us over time. You already know the examples: flossing and brushing our teeth after meals; going to sleep and waking up the same time every day; meditating (praying, giving thanks, thinking of nothing) for 10 minutes upon arising will set up our day to be peaceful and joyful. If we stretch during the day, every day, we will have the flexibility that keeps us limber. By eating small, healthy meals five times a day, we will maintain our weight and sugar levels. By not letting the small stuff upset us, we will relieve stress.
Myth #5: It’s too late to reverse our biological age.
The truth is, it’s never too late to reverse our biological age. The difference between genetic aging and biological aging is that we have no control over the former and complete control over the latter. We can remake ourselves and recharge our lives at any age, but the earlier we begin, the healthier and longer our life span will be.
Myth #6: We have no control over the quality or length of our lives.
Although, we are genetically programmed to live a certain amount of years, there are certain things we can do to prolong our lives, as well as things we can do to shorten them. Genetics may dictate how long we will live, but our lifestyle permits us to reach that age or die sooner.
Myth #7: Our thoughts are only thoughts and have no effect on our bodies.
Every single thought we put into our bodies will show up later in life: we can finish a marathon, remember where we put our keys, have a toned body, learn a foreign language and enjoy sex at any age. Depending on your choices, you will manifest health or disease, joy or depression, beauty or plainness, enthusiasm or bitterness.
The myth of age is one of human impotency, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The truth lies in our will. We can take responsibility for the third act of our lives by gathering within ourselves the spirit of life, and when the curtain does go down, we will be remembered for this, our greatest performance of all!
Linda Nacif, author of “Jump and the Joy Will Follow: How to Live in Conscious Joy and Health in Every Stage of Life,” is a bilingual author and speaker with a Master’s degree in clinical psychology. Through her breakthrough techniques and passionate communication, she encourages clients to dare to go beyond their comfort zone by being adventurous, fit and enthusiastic. For information, visit www.lindanacif.com.