“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so.

This week’s post is by Stella Carter

We have all heard it before, “age is just a number”, but what if it really is? What if, how you age or how your body response to aging, is impacted by what your mind is telling you? And what if your mind and your outlook on age is what keeps you young, or makes you age? Would you change your mindset if this was true?

Studies have shown that our state of mind, or thoughts, directly impact both our physical and mental wellbeing – two areas that generally deteriorate with age. Simply put, the more someone believes that the stereotypes associated with old age and aging apply to them, the more likely they are to see a decline in their overall health.

Sure, genetics and a healthy lifestyle play an important role in your overall mental and physical wellbeing. However, having a positive, optimistic outlook on yourself and life in general can go a long way towards keeping your mind young, healthy and fresh, and in turn positively impact your wellbeing as you get older. Sound easier said than done? Here are five things you can start doing today, to help you keep your mind young:

Keep learning

Learning new skills keeps the brain active, fires new connections, and provides a sense of purpose to achieve something never done before. Whether it’s learning to play the guitar, or how to paint, keeping your mind active and engaged will stimulate you mentally and physically in a very positive way.

Think you’re too old to learn new tricks? Think again! Kane Tanata, the Guinness World record’s oldest person living (female) at 117 years old, keeps her mind active by solving maths equations on a daily basis, and playing board games with the nursing staff.

Keep moving

Even a little movement every day will have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. When your mind is right, your body falls into place. You are never too old to move. Diedre Larkin, started running at the ripe young age of 78, and now runs for the RunZone Athletics Club in Johannesburg. Larkin, now 90 years old, is the world record holder for her age category in half marathons. Larkin runs five days a week and believes too many people retire at 60 and sit down to knit all day long. Larkin’s moto is “if you run, you can improve your health and live up to 90, at least.”

Laugh more

Laughter is the best medicine! It reduces stress, boosts the immune system and builds resilience. Laughter can lead to a better, happier and healthier life, so embrace a sense of humour and try not to take yourself so seriously. Laugh at your mistakes and silliness. Laugh at the aging process. Embracing the quirks of aging and laughing at them can reduce the downsides. Laughing more also draws people to you, enhancing those connections. 

Conscious gratitude

Making the decision to be grateful everyday enables you to see all the good in your life, and in the world around you. It will also help you to be more present in the moment, helping you draw positive experiences from the everyday. Slow down, breath and take it all in.

So if aging really is nothing more than a state of mind, then the only thing left to do is make the decision to live every day in a positive, mindful, grateful, happy way….. your “older” self will thank you for it!