Some thoughts about better aging – and maybe gaining A FEW years
How old can we get?
Some scientists say we could easily reach an average age of 120 years. Others are convinced that human beings can become immortal (how scary is that? – Imagine our planet, which already is overcrowded!). Scientifics undertake many efforts to identify new means to extend our life span and keep us away from aging – a very lucrative industry. In particular, because most European countries are aging fast, and populations are shrinking. And not to talk about the fact that almost everyone wants to look and appear younger. I also believe that 80 or 85 is not yet the last word for our possible average age. It will be essential to HOW we age and how our quality of life will be when being old.
Plastic surgery or botox?
A definite NO to both. Surgery is not something we should do voluntarily. It is no fun. And botox is a manipulation of your face – and no one knows the long-term effects yet. Hands off! Have a look at Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa - a beautiful and sage 75 years old yoga teacher in the US. She says that botox paralyzes your pituitary gland and instead recommends "to get up early, listen to birds meditate and be happy" – maybe that's the way to go?
Did you ever see the movie "Death becomes her" with the wonderful actresses Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn? A real must-see.
Better aging - here`s what I believe helps to keep us fit and young:
1. Don't smoke.
If you like it or not - smoking still is the reason no. 1 for cancer. There are certainly people who have smoked their whole lives yet reach a respectable age (like our ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt), but these are exceptions. Sadly some people who have never smoked in their lives also get cancer. However – this is not the majority! Smoking still is reason number 1 for cancer.
2. Don't overdo.
This recommendation refers to alcohol, eating, sports, and almost everything. Had I accepted every beer or glass of wine in my long career in the tourism industry, I might have become an alcoholic. Learn to say no—nothing against a glass of wine. I am having one while writing this blog. I love red Spanish wine!) or a beer but plan on a few days per week without any alcohol. If you have weight problems, try "dinner canceling" twice or three times a week.
3. Think about what you eat
I can be happy that I belong to those people who love veggies (unlike many men) – yes! I eat them all – broccoli, fennel, green salads and and and. Vegetables and most fruits help to keep you in shape. Some scientists go so far and say that they can even prevent certain diseases, including cancer. Let's not exaggerate. However, I remember that years ago, a traditional healer told me that she could see my healthy nutrition from my blood picture. Not that I don't eat sweets from time to time (I love them, and after all, they are suitable for your soul. I keep my hands off most kinds of artificial food such as instant meals and - to a significant extent - refined white sugar. I know people who drink 5 or 6 cups of coffee per day and put three white sugar spoons in every cup. - And I carefully read descriptions before buying anything. You would not believe how much bad stuff (such as colorants and preservatives) is part of most of our food. The same goes for cosmetics, shampoo, shower gel, etc. Many of them contain castor oil (YES) and other chemicals that we should never let on our skin (and then into our bodies).
4. Move, move, move!
Enjoy moving your body the way you like!
I have written another blog on this but let me summarize the key points:
Try to avoid sitting. Take every opportunity to walk. See a colleague in his/her office instead of writing an e-mail. Get up when you make a phone call. And walk to make errands instead of using your car.
Use staircases instead of elevators. Try to make 10,000 steps a day.
Exercise. You can even build muscles at an old age, that's good news. Walk, dance, bike, hike – whatever you prefer but MOVE! I use to go to the gym three times a week – no excuse, I take my time for a quick workout. And when traveling, I either look for a gym or do some functional training in my room.
5. Let the child out in you.
I don't believe in the unwritten rule that we should behave according to our age. Why? Sit on the floor, laugh, make fun of yourself, don't take everything too seriously. It is nice to see older people having fun with their great-grandchildren, dancing around with them, and having a big smile on their faces. And yes, the German saying "Laughing is the best medicine" is so true – laugh whenever you can, and your stress level will be ok.
6. Learn something new
That is the best way to keep your brain up to speed. Learn a language, learn to play an instrument, learn to dance, or whatever. It will keep your mind fresh. I love to keep up my foreign language knowledge by reading magazines in English, French, Italian, or Spanish. I read an excellent Sunday newspaper, and when I have finished, I put it away and try to repeat to myself the most important things I have read (and learned).
7. Be egoistic.
Learn to say no! Move away from people who are not suitable for you. I know this is almost impossible in business life, but we can do it in our private environment. Someone keeps talking about himself/herself and does not listen to you? Off we go! You don't need tons of (false) friends; just a few good ones are fine. And don't feel obliged to do everything that others ask you to do. I have stopped to attend every function I was supposed to participate in years ago – I select the few essential ones. And I take time for myself. Every day I sip my beloved espresso in a café—no "coffee to go" (what an awful habit ist hat...). I sit down, read a paper, or watch people and enjoy a few minutes of tranquility – time just for myself! An old Chinese saying says, "have a cup of tea and forget the noise of the world" (well, in my case, it would rather be the dark liquid stuff...) – so true!
Get away from home and broaden your mind.
That is one of the best ways to broaden your mind. Get to know a new city. Visit a museum. Taste something new. Meet new people. Get inspired. A few days away from home can change your life.
9. Surround yourself with young people.
I am so blessed that I have to deal with many young people in my job. That keeps me up to speed with everything. I get fresh perspectives and learn from them. I am teaching event management at a university – it is so much fun to work with young students – and they appreciate to learn from my experience.
A beautiful statement of Meryl Streep. Here's what a sage woman says:
"I have no longer patience for certain things. Not because I've become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynism, excessive criticism, and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me. To love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty, and cheap praise. I do not adjust to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites, and that's why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship, I'm not too fond of the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me, and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything, I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience."