One of Randy and my favorite songs is this terrific ballad, made famous by Frank Sinatra “It Was A Very Good Year” celebrating all the stages of life….
And as we discussed and scientifically supported in Vital Aging: “It Was A Very Good Year” Part I, your positive mindset about the aging process, starting in your younger years has the power to boost your memory, give years to your life and lower your risk of dementia and heart events when you reach those magical “seasoned years”! If you’re reading this and thinking- “But I’ve always viewed aging negatively, I must be doomed”-think again! You CAN change a negative mindset at any age and reap the reward!
Now let’s get into the “secret sauce” for either improving or maintaining positive age beliefs, starting out with Dr. Becca Levy’s (author of Breaking The Age Code) ABCs…
I. ABCs of Freeing Age Bias-
A.A is for Awareness–
What are your own personal views of entering the “Golden Age” of 60+ years old and beyond? If you think you have no personal views, start noting them. Look in the greeting card section for celebrating the Senior years and you’ll definitely see funny yet not very age positive examples- 😂 !:
Make a mental note everytime you see commercials for combating your age number, as an example, “age defying” products (which btw is a $11.6 billion dollar business in the US):
Or note the “forever young” cosmetic industry topping $16.7 billion in cosmetic procedures in 2020.
Start seeking out relationships with ALL AGES to get a varied age perspective. And when you’re blessed enough to spend time with your “uber-seasoned” family, friends or community members, get their stories! I’m always amazed each time I talk to my Dad and Mom (92 and 93 years young):
or my Mother (87 years young) and Father-in-law (87 years young who just left for heaven this year),
because I learn a new story from their past I’ve never heard! And with each story my respect and awe blossoms in realizing the hardships they faced with grace and integrity!
B. B is for Blame– Put the blame for age bias where it belongs, not on the process of aging (which we all are extremely lucky to make in the first place) but on how the vast majority of Americans mentally view getting older!
If you are a seasoned citizen or you are trying to get an older loved one to adopt healthier habits, we all know it can be tough to make those lasting changes. However, if you or your loved one has a positive outlook on living the “Senior Years”, yes with all of it’s challenges (as I’ve noted above, every phase of life has them), you’re more likely to make those long lasting health changes that can increase your quality of life. I’m talking about moving more (another shameless fun time with my grands starting with a walk to the lake then hanging out with them in the lake):
Eating more healthfully:
dealing with stress in a healthful way, note laughter would be at the top of the list for this (this is my hubby wearing his granddaughter’s swim suit)!
getting quality sleep and embracing the eternal, not the temporal (see point III below).
C. C is for Challenge– Look on the Golden Years as just another challenging phase of life that has the potential to help you grow as a person if you so choose it:
*Challenge yourself to learn something new! Hey, I’m doing this now; at the age of 63 years old I took an intensive course and now studying for the test to be a Clinical Medical Assistant, along with volunteering in the clinic. Although I’ve counseled scores of wellness clients over the years, I’ve NEVER worked in the traditional medical industry and yes it’s a challenge for me, but an upbeat attitude WILL see me through!
*Challenge yourself with a daily purpose! Just recently on Radio Show Healthy U, 100.9 KMEM, we interviewed our friend and one of Randy’s valued colleagues, Dr. Kent Campbell. He recently retired from being a family practitioner, his profession these past 40 years. We asked him what his plan was for living a purposeful life going forward and he replied that each day, no matter how simple or elaborate his plans were, be it golfing with his friends, playing with his grandson or volunteering for a family that was down and out, he was making a special effort to be present in each effort with meaning to all he encountered. Now that’s purpose!
*Challenge yourself to reach out to someone that needs a friend– be they a “Senior” or a teenager! Now this doesn’t need to be tough, you can start out with a simple phone call!
*Try embracing older role models to give you a healthy “age” perspective! Just recently Maye Musk (Mom of Elon Musk) at the age of 72 became the oldest Sports Illustrated cover page:
Maye was asked if she always embraced her age and she noted her 96 year old mother, who is her role model, just recently retired. Her Mom never talked about the negatives (like wrinkles) that come with aging, she was always just positive and always learning. She noted in an interview with Gayle King:
“And then, as I say, as I got into my 60s, people were talking about aging and being scared of aging, and I’m saying, ‘Why are you scared of aging?'” she added. “I mean, for example, when you turn 50, women are scared of losing their jobs. But then men become CEOs and presidents, so what’s that about?”
“We need to change that around. And if somebody’s making you feel bad about your age, just say goodbye,” Musk added. “You don’t need that person in your life.”
*Challenge yourself to spend time reading God’s Word early in the morning. I promise this has the potential to make an unequivocal seismic shift in your life (it did mine), helping you focus on what is truly important: your relationship with our Creator!
And with this growth comes opportunities to give back to others for the gift of life you’ve been given!
BUT, what if you (or a loved one) is in a pessimistic funk, and you/they can’t seem to get out??
II.Amp up your explanatory style!– Martin Seligman wrote this treasured book “Learned Optimism” (as I’ve previously talked about in “Drink From The Healing Pitcher of Optimism”). Your “explanatory style” is what we tell ourselves when an event has occurred and how we process it, be it positive or negative. When rejection or defeat come our way (and it always does- 😂 !), pessimists take it as a confirmation of their low self-worth, yet optimists view it as a temporary setback that can be a springboard to learning and improvement!
But don’t despair, optimism CAN be learned! The first step is noticing those self-defeating thoughts. Dr. Andrew Weil, internationally recognized pioneer of Integrative Medicine weighs in on optimism in his book Healthy Aging:
“The process of learning to be optimistic begins with identification of self-defeating thoughts. For example, whenever you notice yourself ruminating on a theme like “I am worthless and this latest setback just confirms it.” You can consciously substitute “ This setback is just something that happened; I will get through it, because I am capable and resilient.” The theory behind this work is simple; it is impossible to hold opposite thoughts in mind at the same time, and the impact of a negative thought on feelings can be canceled by thinking a positive one.”
Quick example to learn from: Your pie crust that you just tried to make for the first time was a real flop, it just crumbled when you sliced into it:
So here’s that negative and positive self-speak:
Pessimistic attitude: You know, I was never really was good at baking and this just confirms how terrible I am! I’m never making pie crusts again!
Let’s flip that bad attitude….
Optimistic attitude: I’ve talked to pie experts and many say making pie crusts is an art form that you’ve got to learn from. So going forward, I’m going to look up some You-Tube videos on pie baking and get more tips from the experts. Then I’m going to try it again, but this time, if my pie crust flops, I’ll learn from it and try it again (maybe I’ll try an easier recipe first), knowing that eventually, I’ll have that experience necessary to have a successful pie crust!
Resilience booster: It’s never as bad as you may perceive—Randy gobbled the pie serving like a vulture, ugly crust and all!
And let’s not forget, ALL of this optimistic vs. pessimistic age belief discussion means nothing without the framework of God being our guiding light….
III.Focus on the eternal, not the temporal. We mortals were not meant to focus on attaining joy (a/k/a positive attitudes) strictly by earthly means (temporal) but instead, the promise of being with Our Lord (eternal) when our earthly trials are finished.
Yes there are those precious moments of joy in our lives. For me, my top pics are our marriage, the birth of our three kids, the marriage of our three kids and now the blessings of two grandgirls. However the day to day grind of life is tough and definitely not always joyful (😂 ). But, as our human sinful condition dictates, you already know if your driving focus in life is on attaining earthly joy (be it material, power or “experiences”), you’ll definitely come up short on the earthly “joy” meter, because you’ll always want more!
To illustrate, remember the story about “The Fisherman and His Wife”, originally put in writing by The Brothers Grimm?
The story goes a fisherman caught a fish and the fish talked back to him and asked him to save his life by throwing him back, and in return, the fish would give him three wishes of his heart’s desire. The fisherman went back to the shabby hovel he shared with his wife and told his wife what happened. His snarky wife demanded he go back and take up the fish on his three wishes:
So the first wish of the fisherman to the saved fish (with his wife’s prompting) was a new house, and ‘POOF” they now lived in a nice new house. Then the wife demanded a second much grander wish (because their new grand house just wasn’t enough now- 😂 ), which was again granted by the fish. However, it wasn’t until the third wish, when the wife prompted her husband to ask the fish to be able to command the sun, moon and stars because his wife wanted to be “equal with God” did the fish deny his wish and replied, “You now again live in the shabby hovel you started in.”
That fisherman and his wife represent our sinful material nature, demanding more and more of those earthly treasures that can never match the joy of communion with the Lord of the Universe.
Is it any wonder we’ve lost our eternal way with the new gallup poll showing that Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low. That’s down from the new low (at the time in 2017) of 87%!
But please understand, there’s no reason to despair! We CAN switch our temporal earthly “joy” meter that leads to those negative age beliefs that in turn impair our potential to lead a fruitful life in our Senior years to TRUE JOY! That is by relying on the Gospel, believing that Jesus ensured our salvation with Our Father with His death. All we need to do is believe, not just by words, but by our actions so that others may believe….
“And now my dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy….. AND put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”
And now, the conclusion of “It Was A Very Good Year”, the best Senior years are either here for you or yet to come, either way, they’re still very good years!!
Recap of : Vital Aging:“It Was A Very Good Year” Part II
I.ABCs of Freeing Age Bias-
A.A is for Awareness–
B.B is for Blame
C.C is for Challenge
II.Amp up your explanatory style
III.Focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
Would you like a healthy sub for those chips we all like to eat in the summer months with our barbeque? These simple bowtie pasta noodles are baked after they’re boiled then toasted with dry Ranch dressing. You can use your dip of choice with them! My choice is usually guacamole to get those great healthy fats, along with guac’s terrific flavor, but that it up to you!!!
Toasted Ranch Bowtie Pasta
2 cups of Bowtie Pasta
1 T. Olive Oil
2 T. (.5 oz.) Dry Ranch Dressing
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Boil pasta water (with 1 tsp. salt) until boiling. Insert pasta for about 4 minutes. You want the pasta to be cooked but have a little “tooth” to it.
- Drain the pasta. Spread paper towels on the cookie sheet and lay out the drained pasta to totally dry it. I put another layer of towels on top of the pasta to insure dryness. You don’t want chewy pasta, you want a decided “crunch” when you are finished. This will help that process.
- Set timer for 10 minutes and check on the pasta. It should have a toasted look, but not dark brown, almost burned look.
- Let pasta cool for 15 minutes or so before storing or dig in and eat!!!
Nutrition Info per serving each 1.5 oz.-138 calories, 3.2 g. fat, 23.4 g. carbohydrates, 3.7 g. protein.
Revised from Sunny’s Food Network recipe from The Kitchen.