Choose Your Age

Hi Kids, hope you’re great. Here’s another extract from my NEW BOOK! Enjoy…

Mental Fitness

Do you ever feel like your mind is turning to mush? Like your brain has been sitting on the couch, eating cake and smoking weed for two decades? Well, if you said ‘yes’ to those questions then (1) you’re not alone and (2) you can turn it around if you’re prepared to do the work.

The term ‘Mental Fitness’ means different things to different people (depending on the situation, application and conversation) but for the purpose of this conversation, I’m talking about our ability to think clearly, to process information, to stay focused, to communicate effectively with others, to remember things (short and long term), to problem solve, to be creative, to complete mathematical tasks, to understand new concepts, to learn new things, to deal with pressure and to express feelings, thoughts and ideas in a meaningful way.

Can We Get Better With Age?

In all honesty, I can say that at almost-fifty my mind has never been ‘fitter’. I’ve never had more clarity, never had a better memory, never been more creative and I’ve never been able to focus and concentrate more effectively than I do right now. So, why is that? Is it genetic? Does it run in the family? Is it luck? No, it’s because my mind ‘works out’ every day. That is, I consciously train my brain to keep it in shape and, more importantly, to get in better shape.

I’m always reading, writing, researching, creating, solving problems and putting myself in situations where I’m required to learn new things. Situations where I have no option but to explore my potential. To tap into the untapped. To get uncomfortable. Even maintaining a large blog and producing interesting, stimulating and relevant articles has been a constant workout for my mind over the last eight years. I also choose to hang out with people who are smarter than me, who teach me, challenge me, argue with me and who have stimulating and thought-provoking conversations with me. I constantly ask questions which require me to work for an answer. I’m committed to developing and becoming better at what I do and I understand that, in order to do that, it’s advantageous for me to have a mind that’s not fat, lazy and unfit.

So to speak.

Physical and Mental Stimulation

Just like your muscles need exercise, so too does your brain need to be stimulated, challenged and trained if you want it to function optimally. If you want it to adapt. To improve. To become more efficient. The cognitive degeneration we see in many people is more about lack of cerebral stimulation (using their brain) than it is about some inevitable consequence of chronological age. That is, it’s not about some numbers on a calendar. I’ve long been of the opinion that most people succumb unnecessarily to the idea of age and that they age prematurely. I say the ‘idea of age’ because in many ways, it is more of a concept than it is an unavoidable reality. It’s clear that some people think, talk, choose and behave their way to old age.

We’ve all met people who are old at forty and others who are young at seventy.

What Age Isn’t

There is a vast body of research suggesting that, in many ways, ageing as we experience it on a practical level is more about choices, behaviours, reactions, habits, lifestyle and diet than it is about the accumulated number of years between when we came screaming into the world and this moment in time. It’s much more than some inevitable and unavoidable consequence of a constantly ticking clock.

Some fifty year-olds have old bodies not because they’re fifty but because they have abused and neglected their only irreplaceable resource for far too long. For many people, their physical decline is not about genetic destiny but, rather, genetic mismanagement. Through their own stupidity, they have aged unnecessarily. You’ve seen them.

Here’s the scientific correlation:

“Treat your body like shit and before long, you’ll look, feel and function like shit.”

Of course, we will all experience a degree of degeneration over the course of time but in the pursuit of our best life, the question we need to ask ourselves as intelligent, conscious beings is:

How much of my physical degeneration is unavoidable and how much of it is self-inflicted?

It’s been my observation and experience that many of us accelerate the ageing process via our thinking, beliefs, behaviours, choices and habits. And when I say ageing, I mean physically and mentally.

If ageing is only about some numbers on a calendar then no, folks, it is not optional. But if ageing is about the way we look, feel and function mentally and physically (and that’s what I’m talking about here) then, yes, it is largely optional. If ageing is about how fit, lean, strong and healthy we are then, yes, it is largely optional. If ageing is about how we think, behave, react, choose, communicate, exercise, eat and live then, yes, it is totally optional.

Choose your age. :)

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

chebbieanne April 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I almost got old for a while but luckily for me I got confused and started to act a lot younger. When you act younger you think younger and then you do younger. Today to my delight my daughter who is half my age in earth years joined me in the gym – a rare event. As we were running on treadmills she complained about how hard it was – she by this time had raised a little sweat. I of course was dripping like a rain forest in the wet season and gasping for breath. When I was finally able to speak – some considerable time later – I pointed out that if she just kept doing this regularly she would never feel worse doing it than she did today. She said I looked like shit which of course was a fair call. That I said is because I did not do this every day at your age!

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Fi April 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I love you act younger and thoroughly enjoy seeing you on the gym floor and listening to your words of wisdom which usually make me laugh lots and as you know make my trainer blush (but he loves it!!!!).
I have been absent for a few weeks, but next week I am back and I honestly look forward to seeing your happy face and cheerful enlightening discussion….you’ll never see me on the treadmill!! can’t run and talk at the same time ;-)
In a weird way I get Mental Fitness on the gym floor form all of you… see you next week. xx

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Sulagna April 26, 2013 at 1:18 am

So true Craig. Indian littérateur Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 at the age of 52. He started painting at the age of 67.
They still hold exhibitions of his paintings.
You’re never too old to start something new.

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Katherine Gordy Levine April 26, 2013 at 1:33 am

Good advice, but at 76 some things are a bit beyond your control, so it is also very important to live now. Or did you say that. I forget, aging memory. Sigh. Two questions I ask at Mission and Goals Workshops: If you knew you were going to die a year from now, how would live that year? If you knew you were going to die five years from now, how would you lived those years? Helps set some live now priorities. Stay strong, as Mae West noted, “Aging ain;t fpr sissies.” As life shows you can delay it, but you cannot stop it, so LIVE NOW!

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Trolley Wife April 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I choose to never think about my 46 Years and it serves me well. I have 21, 19 and 11 year old who see their Ma physically active at gym and hiking, with the odd sprint session, eating well and enjoying a full life despite having severe degenerative bone disease. (falling part on the inside).

I intentionally not think about age as I see many my age act
” almost 50″ (more like they are 70).They are thinking themselves into old age. I also do not let the bone thing get to me. I am careful with deadlifts and anything back related, otherwise up and on we go. Love ya stuff.

Erin

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sweetpea April 27, 2013 at 3:24 am

It is surprising then, that most young people who are fit and energetic take the party road, and a good night for many is getting absolutely paralytic….. even if they go to the gym….obviously they are fit enough to “get trashed”….cant see the sense in that…but apparently, drinking soo much that you vomit on all your clothes and your friends seems like its a rite of passage. Then they talk about the great time they had the next day. Didnt realise that chundering was akin to having a great time. Young and trashing themselves to feel old…but recovery is easier…. until… sometime tells them they speak in monosyllables… Youth is definately wasted on the young…drunk people on gym equipment…well the energy drink was part of the party ritual with copious hard spirits…

So where do they find, concoct, such rituals. Drunkspeak is very annoying and they… young or old sound the same with they speak it.. Feeling like shit the next morning… is the topic for conversation, alongside the tally of drinks, the post mortem…and then the laughs…better the story of the brain damage…the more laughs you get…. apparently. I have listened to many of these stories. Old farts find it excruciatingly boring. Did not know that dancing in vomit had such great appeal….

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taube-hansen April 28, 2013 at 5:13 am

You´re absolutly right Craig,
aging is how you treat your body soul and mind.
I´ve seen 40 years old people in the body of eighty years old one.
Despite brain/body complications – its on you how you age.

Alt werden ist nichts für Feiglinge (Mae West)

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