I’m not against aging…. I’m against getting old. I’m not sure who said it first, but I do know that Bill Phillips, the author of Body for Life uses that phrase. There is indeed a difference between aging and getting old. Aging is more physical while getting old is a more a frame of mind – it’s mental and has to do with attitude.
My plan was to write and tackle the differences between aging and getting old. But, I came across this article by Richard Falk. He eloquently and poetically captures far better than I the differences between aging and getting old and will simply refer you to his article while providing some commentary that follows.
The Five Force Fields and 5 C’s for Staying Young
Mr. Falk discusses the five force fields that need to stay active to prevent from growing old: work, play, caring for the future, love, and health.
I find his words on work insightful. I see many patients struggle adjusting to retirement. Though we may retire from our work, it’s essential or healthy that we continue to work. Those who cannot distinquish between work and play have an advantage so it helps if you love what you do. We need to stay active in some type of “labor” preferably a labor of love.
When we think of play we think of activities that involve/include other people, but he points out that the pinnacle of play sometimes occur in private – suggesting that play can be accomplished alone or in solitude. I know I receive a “high” when I write an article that that says exactly what I want it to say, and I know I cannot make it any better given my ability. There’s a sense of gratification when we know we did our best even if no one else knows.
Mitch Anthony talks about the 5 C’s for staying young: connectivity, challenge, curiosity, creativity, and charity. One way to ward off dementia is to always be engaged in learning a new activity as learning new things forces us to use parts of our brains that sometimes lay dormant. To some degree the brain is only as strong as its weakest link. Keep that weak link strong as possible. Keep learning. Stay curious. Be fascinated by things. An easy way to do that is to become fascinated by the very things that frustrate you. I’ve now become fascinated by how few cars get through a green light as I sit for the light to turn green again.
And, of course it helps to stay connected. And as we age that means staying connected to the younger generation not just our peers. Hanging around younger minds keeps our minds and bodies younger longer. For example, May-December romances seems to benefit the older partner more in terms of slowing the aging process – just an observation – not a suggestion!
Both Mr.Falk and Mr. Anthony are saying much the same though in different ways. How well we age is really up to us and primarily involves our attitudes and choices we make.
Some people scoff at the concept of anti-aging or preventing aging – that aging is going to happen so why worry about it. But, they miss the bigger picture. Living younger longer is about getting the most from this one life we have on this planet. It’s about seeing how much we can do with the skills and limited time we each have. It’s also about touching or affecting the lives of others in ways that make their lives better.
Not growing old is about staying around long enough to become all you can be and all you want to be!