There is no doubt in my mind that you need to quit thinking about your age after you turn 50. Thinking about your age automatically creates limitations you never thought about before you became 50 years old.
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• Those who obsess about “turning old” always talk about their age and use their age as an alibi to avoid lots of activities, such as exercising, hiking with the grandkids, or taking up new hobbies or setting new goals in their lives.
• Several senior people have told me they don’t play tennis because it requires too much strength, endurance and balance for a person their age. I left the age of 50 over 20 years ago and play at least four hours of aggressive tennis weekly. I play against younger people most of the time, and it keeps me feeling younger.
• When I work out on the treadmill and the stationary bike, the computer asks for my age when I enter my exercise goal. I enter the age of 49, which requires me to work harder. Also, I like the idea of convincing myself that I can still do it if I don’t recognize my physical age and concentrate on my mental age.
• It’s true that you are as old as you believe you are. Deny your physical age and try some new activities, such as tennis, jogging, yoga, writing poetry, acting in a play, or teaching. I know several 70-year-olds who are more cheerful and energetic than some 40-year-olds I know. Those who constantly bring up their age quit being creative and use their age to avoid trying anything new.
• Believing you are “too old” will result in less energy and less interest in sexual, social and intellectual activities. The T.V. and your living room chair become your best friends when you decide you are too old.
• Just deny your age. Think about newness in your life and move forward with new energy, new goals and new enthusiasm. Oldness is OK if you are antique furniture, but not otherwise. A new idea should not create pain or fear. Try something new as often as possible. Newness improves your memory and gives you a reason to continue moving forward.
• You can grow up and spread joy, or you can grow up and spread your butt only. At your memorial service, wouldn’t you like your friends to talk about your young heart?
A good way to stay young is to first determine what you love to do and then do what you love at least one hour, five days a week. I talk to a lot of people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and I am surprised how many seniors do not know what they love. Are you so old that love no longer matters to you?
• Many seniors seem depressed because they feel they are too old and have no control over their health, their finances or their future. Several seniors I know are angry about their age because they have no energy and the future does not look promising. They have given up and are bitter about life in general.
• I recommend you associate with seniors who have not given up and look forward to tomorrow. Their energy can be contagious. You can be 70 and look 70, feel 70, and live life as a tired, bitter, bored 70-year-old. Or you can forget about your age and create a young heart and a younger body for yourself. You are the shot-caller in your life!
• All of us think about the aging process, and we realize that aging slows you down in some ways. Slowing down doesn’t mean you throw in the towel or forsake new adventures, new activities and new friendships. Kiss off your real age and live younger. Your mind can adapt to feeling younger and can encourage your new attitude.
• Helen Keller once wrote: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” Helen was right.
Bob Billingsley is a columnist at the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.