I turned 50 recently but I don’t feel 50 – does anyone? The other day, however, I went to the doctor’s office for
some vaccination shots before a business trip to Africa and got a surprise. When the nurse called my name in the waiting room, I stood up and walked over but she continued to look past me as if I wasn’t there. She called my name again, and I said, “Yes, I am Christos,” and she acted confused. “Oh,” she said, “I was looking for someone older!” Maybe she was joking but she sure knew how to make a patient feel good!
That funny moment started me thinking. I know I’m not “young” but I do not feel my age, and I don’t think I’m alone. Many people my age and older seem extremely youthful to me in terms of their physical condition, energy levels, attitude, mental agility, and even appearance. What is it that “keeps someone young” in terms of how they come across to others and feel inside? For me, there are three contributing factors:
- When your body is fit your mind is fit and you have more energy
I feel younger when I’m in better shape. How about you?
A few years ago I tried Cross Fit and got hooked. My personal trainer pushed me through an endless variety of challenges that exhausted me but gave me more energy and body confidence than I’d ever felt before.
The benefits for me were not just physical. All the stress of my job dissipated after every workout, and I arrived at the office each morning feeling creative, energetic and rejuvenated.
The Ancient Greeks were the first Olympians and they were also great philosophers.
They believed in the balance between a healthy body
and an active mind.
I’ve always believed that too. When I’m in physical shape my mind feels clear and quick.
Science basically says the same thing.
2. Curiosity and creativity are how adults play
The reverse is also true. When my mind is in good shape – because I’m less stressed or I’m fired up by powerful ideas – I actually feel more alive.
The other day, I had lunch with a colleague who asked me about my current job and my plans for the future. I was really excited about a number of different ideas and new projects, many of them unconventional and talked with a lot of enthusiasm.
He stopped me, looked at me and said, “You sound so young!”
I asked him what he meant and he told me that my energy and creativity reminded him of how he used to feel early in his career.
I love ideas – they’re like games for the brain – and when I get passionate about some creative thought or insight I also feel optimistic and energized. It gives me the feeling that I can overcome challenges and the curiosity to seek new opportunities. It makes the world seem new and never tired or pointless.
Here’s an older but very interesting article from Psychology Today about why creative people have so much energy. It rang true to me
- Fear is born old
On the other hand, stress, worry, and anxiety definitely make me feel older. I was talking to a friend about some worries recently, and then I thought about how rarely my children feel those emotions. I worry about them all the time, but they don’t seem to worry at all. My friend said that’s because, by nature, young people are fearless. He added:
“Fear is born old.”
That really stayed with me and I began to notice it in other people. When I see friends or colleagues who are timid, stressed, or fearful, they always seem older to me. It is as though their fear and worry is a burden that holds them back from enjoying life, taking chances, and seeing possibilities optimistically rather than pessimistically.
I’m lucky that I don’t have many or frequent fears. For some reason, I never worry about failing in my career or running out of money. I know I could always find something to do, even if it’s driving an UBER cab, and I’m not really hung up about status or reputation.
I think that helps me take chances, go places and try new things, in life and work. I know for sure that I’m drawn to extreme sports and adventures that risk my safety. I love to take risks and savor new experiences especially when there’s adrenaline involved.
Feel young, live longer
I think those three things – physical fitness, creativity, and lack of fear – help people stay, feel and live young. When you exercise your body, exercise your mind, and try things outside of your comfort zone you’re living to the full. You’re looking towards the future, but you’re embracing the present. You’re taking chances but you’re anticipating good outcomes and creating opportunities as a result. Your brain is more active because you’re encountering new ideas, gathering new data, forming new thoughts.
To me, there’s a feedback loop that gets created as a result. You feel young so you try new things. You engage in different jobs, form new friendships, visit new places and think new thoughts, which continues to give you a boost of youthful energy. That in turn makes you feel more positive, creative, optimistic, healthy, capable and successful. And at the same time, you draw people and opportunities to you that reinforce how good it feels to be young.
Obviously, there are other areas of life that help us feel young. Fulfillment in our lives and careers. Connection to others. Belief in something larger than ourselves. A sense of purpose. Love. I know none of that keeps anyone young in terms of years, but it makes it a lot more enjoyable getting older!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Photo: Portrait Central