The Myth of Aging
The original transcript of the dialogue between Me (M) and the Experienced One (E).
When was the last time you were reminded that you are no longer part of young generation?
I don’t know…May be the last time when a group of teenager called me uncle and the next day while shaving I happen to notice a couple of grey hair.
A coincidence! I don’t know.
But guess what? My immediate reaction was “No way those grey hair couldn’t be mine”.
“Denial” is one of the strongest reactions that we tend to generate when we are confronted with harsh realities of life.
Do you know that the modern day medicine and general healthier lifestyle have drastically expanded our average life span? If you were in 1930s by 32 you were already half way through your life. Now in 2016, by 32 you are still 10 years off the half way point. Isn’t this Great news!
And this is definitely one of the news that I would personally like to share with every visually non challenged folks who start seeing parents of every type as some middle aged weird creatures.
Is there any logic in focusing on someone’s age after they turn 18? Up until 18 we need to be aware of our age because our mind and the body are still developing and therefore are vulnerable.
But after that why is this world obsessed with age?
I am all curious.
Ageing isn’t a definite milestone that kicks into affect at exactly 29, 35, or 41 years of age. It’s rather a process that is defined by all the choices, decisions, and actions that we end up making during our life time.
When you are able to bring more consistency in making daily choices and actions influenced by healthier options, you are in a better position to prolong your experience of the youth.
Similarly the opposite is also true. That means poorer the choices you make and harsher you treat your body, the more rapidly ageing sets in.
In fact “Ageing is a myth that has managed to gain widespread currency in our society; as a result we are more than happy to use it as a readily available excuse for our laziness. It’s a filthy defense for giving up before trying and opting out.”
So you mean to say that opting for the healthier and disciplined choices should help us in delaying the inevitable process of ageing.
But you should guard against making the mistake of focusing only on few of the selective external signs.
What do you mean?
Let me explain this way. There are schools of thought that tend to focus on the most visible Signs of ageing primarily the external ones.
. External: In terms of Gains
. 1. Weight
. 2. Grey hair
. 3. Assets in accumulation
. External: In terms of Losses
. 1. Hair
. 2. Eyesight
. 3. Metabolic rate and flexibility
This school of thought advocates keeping external signs of gains and loss under control to feel young.
The advocates of these are again divided into two groups: Cosmetic and Holistic.
And there are multi billion industries built around these two sets of groups.
However we often tend to ignore internal dimensions of ageing:
Internal dimensions: never heard of them.
There are schools of thought (though in minority) that advocate watching out for internal signs of ageing.
. Internal: In terms of Gains
. 1. Ego
. 2. Insecurities
. 3. Rear view mirror syndrome
. Internal: In terms of losses
. 1. Enthusiasm
. 2. Faith
. 3. Optimism
So what’s the antidote for them?
The antidote to these internal signs is something extracted from the fountain of youth itself.
It requires a continuous effort on your part in form of choices, discipline and action to weed out these sore signs of ageing.
Ways to weed out:
. Resist yourself from falling in love with your own idea.
. Develop a habit of double think.
. Stop fearing the unknown.
Once you are better placed to keep a tight leash on these internal signs, you can incorporate the holistic approach to gain wider benefits.
Is it really that simple?
Let me share with you an experiment mentioned in the book named:
In 1981, Langer and a group of graduate students designed the interior of a building to reflect 1959. There was a black-and-white TV, old furniture, and magazines and books from the 1950’s scattered about.
This would be the home to a group of eight men, all over 70 years old, for the next five days. When these men arrived at the building, they were told they should not merely discuss this past era, but to act as if they actually were their prior selves, 22 years ago. “We have good reason to believe if you are successful at this you will feel as you did in 1959,” Langer told them.
From that moment on, the study subjects were treated as if they were in their 50’s rather than their 70’s. Despite several being stooped-over and having to use canes for walking, they were not aided in taking their belongings up the stairs. “Take them up one shirt at a time if you have to,” they were told.
Their days were spent listening to radio shows, watching movies, and discussing sports and other “current events” from the period. They could not bring up any events that happened after 1959 and referred to themselves, their families, and their careers as they were in 1959.
The goal of this study was not for these men to live in the past. It was rather an endeavour to mentally trigger the body to exhibit the energy and biological responses of a much younger person.
By the end of the five days, these men demonstrated noticeable improvement in their hearing, eyesight, memory, dexterity and appetite. Those who had arrived using canes, and dependent on the help of their children, left the building under their power and were carrying their own suitcases.
By expecting these men to function independently and by engaging with them as individuals rather than “old people,” Langer and her students gave these men “an opportunity to see themselves differently,” which impacted them biologically.
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The physiological results provided evidence for a simple but invaluable fact: the ageing process is indeed less fixed than most people think.
“It is not our physical state that limits us; it is our mindset about our own limits, our perceptions, that draws the lines in the sand.”
“Wherever we put the mind, the body will follow”: Ellen Langer
You mean to say that getting “old” is nothing but a choice?
Yes, it’s a choice, until you don’t leave it as a choice anymore.
The body is a clever, adaptive machine, but it is very susceptible to work against itself.
Its primary goal is to keep you alive. So to keep the machine in the running condition more often than not it ends up robbing itself of nutrients in one area to fuel another area critical to life support.
You can imagine the consequences as this goes non-stop for so many years, resulting in acute deficiencies, overall functional inefficiencies, and undetected inflammation.
If you have made the choice of sitting at a desk all day; gulp countless calories through coffee, and energy drinks; watch TV and computer screens for hours on end; stress about everything while you chase the outward signs of success; smoke, eat out all the time, and stay up late; hate your job, drink to relax, and take medication for everything and hate yourself.
Then, please don’t shy away from owning up the consequences that manifests itself in the form of accelerated ageing.
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Originally published in http://studentlifemadeeasy.com/the-myth-of-ageing/