Some thoughts about better aging – and maybe gaining years
The term „anti-aging is“ – in my opinion – nonsense. Aging is inevitable – but we can do a few things to slow down the process. We cannot avoid getting older and we do that right from the beginning. We are aging every day and every day gets us closer to death – that is the brutal truth. But hey – here is the good news: we can do a few things in order to slow down the aging process and – to have fun even when being "mature" (what a nice word to just say "old" instead)!
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 even become immortal (how scary is that? – Imagine our planet which already is overcrowded!). Big efforts are undertaken to identify new means to extend our life span and keep us away from aging – a very lucrative industry, in particular in light of the fact that 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 when it comes to our possible average age – but it will be key of HOW we age and how our quality of life will be when being old.
Plastic surgery or botox?
A clear NO to both. A surgery is not something we should do voluntarily. It is no fun. And botox is a manipulation of your face – and noone knows yet the long-term effects. Hands off! Have a look at www.facebook.com/GurmukhKaurKhalsa - a wonderful and very wise 72 years old yoga teacher in the US. She says that botox paralyses your pituitary gland and rather 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.
My personal view
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 and 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 the reason number 1 for cancer.
2. Don`t overdo.
This 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 actually 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 cancelling“ 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. It is evident that veggies and most fruits help to keep you in shape. Some scientists go so far and say that they can even prevent from certain diseases including cancer. That may go a bit far but I remember that years ago a traditional healer told that she could see my healthy nutrition from my blood picture. Not that I don`t eat sweets from time to time (I actually love them – and after all they are good for your soul – if you love sweets) but I keep my hands off most kind of artificial food such as instant meals and - to a big extent - white refined sugar. I know people who drink 5 or 6 cups of coffee per day and put three spoons of white sugar 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. Same goes for cosmetics, shampoo, shower gel etc. - many of them contain castor oil (YES) and other chemicals which we should never let on our skin (and then into our body).
4. Move, move, move!
Enjoy to move 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 just 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 a very old age, that`s the 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 just take my time for a quick workout. And when travelling I either look for a gym or at least 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 serious. It is nice to see old people having fun with their great grand-children, cavorting around with them and having a big smile on their face. And yes, the old 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!
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 brain fresh. I love to keep up my foreign language knowledge by reading magazines in English, French, Italian or Spanish. I read a good Sunday newspaper and when I am finished I put it away and try to repeat to myself the most important things I have read (and learned).
7. Be egoistic!
„Take time for yourself and enjoy the little things of life“
Learn to say no! Move away from people who are not good for you. I know this is almost impossible in the 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 what others ask you to do. I have stopped to attend every function I was supposed to attend years ago – I just select the few ones which are really important. 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 simply 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
This is one of the best ways to broaden your mind. Get to know a new city. Visit 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. I am forced to keep myself 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 wonderful statement of Meryl Streep
Here`s what a very wise 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 tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. 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 dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exxagerations 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."
So well said, Madam! I love you for that.