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Aging and the Brain

May 2, 2021 by  
Filed under blog

Ernestine Shepherd, named the oldest competitive female bodybuilder in 2010, is still very active today, although not competitive, at 84 years old.

Having just turned age 77, I’ve caught myself thinking way too much about my age which has not helped me at all. It has got me worrying more about aging. But then my son sent me a book on aging that talks about how much our thinking can affect how we age. I started the book and have been amazed.

The human mind is a very complex and interesting part of our bodies. It can be a huge help to us but it also has the potential to harm us. I’m halfway through the book and am learning so much about how the brain can help our aging selves. If we use our brain correctly, it can actually be a big factor in keeping us younger than our actual number of years.

The book, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, was written by Jo Ann Jenkins who, at very young age, became the CEO of AARP. Jo Ann said she wrote the book, “because I believe there is a bigger conversation to be had — focused not on just the historic burdens but also on the potential historic benefits of living longer.”

She goes on to say we need to change our thinking and change the conversation about what it means to get older. Our minds and actions should be not about aging. Our lives can be lived feeling much younger and doing so much more than people several generations ago could or would do.

She makes the point that, “Science is making longer lives possible, and we’re just now beginning to realize the opportunities those longer lives offer. People are reinventing work, searching for purpose, embracing technology, and opening themselves up to new experiences like never before.”

As we age, we really need to focus on our health, our wealth, and really work hard to develop a very good sense of our purpose at a middle age or older. That can extend your life in a big way.

Jo Ann preaches how life enhancing it is to think like a younger person, emphasizing that we should try new things, take chances, and not fear aging. She also tells the wonderful story of a 79-year-old lady, Ernestine Shepherd. “With her flat stomach, toned arms, and excellent health, you’d never guess this female bodybuilder is seventy- nine years old… following the death of her sister and many health problems and depression, Shepherd set a goal to get in shape. She was declared the World’s Oldest Performing Female Bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010.”

Wow, what a great story. That should motivate all of us to go after our big goals no matter how tough they may seem and put our fears aside. Yep, it can all be done in your mind, in our great brains.

I do want to talk more about this subject of aging and some of the other things our brain can do to help us stay young, active, and productive. So, next week’s blog I will continue down this road.

Never retire–Re-fire!

April 22, 2011 by  
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Recently I got a phone call from a friend I knew when we were 20. As it turns out my friend, Keith Karren, has written a great book, “Boomer”, about the issues facing baby boomers as they head into retirement. Throughout the book Keith keeps saying, “Never retire–just re-fire”, a sentiment not very different from what I say in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living”. However, Keith goes a little deeper when it comes to applying this to retirement.

We got to talking about this huge problem that most retired people face. They find themselves thinking “Who am I if I am no longer a business person, teacher, doctor, pilot or clerk?” Sure, at first it seems just wonderful not to have to go to work every day but after a while you miss the structure, camaraderie, goals, etc. You say “Oh, I’m retired now” when people ask what you do and you don’t even know what that means. If you think about it, retired is a terrible word. It comes across as a label that says your life is over, that it is worthless and has little or no meaning.

Well my old friend Keith writes all about this problem in his book. When I first read “Never retire–just re-fire” I was myself, fired up by this phrase. The idea of re-firing is to get you excited or re-excited about living. It means setting new goals and totally re-energizing yourself for this next phase of your life. And that’s a heck of a lot better than sitting around waiting to die. When you retire, you still have another 25-35 years of living yet to do. Just think of all you did in your last 35 years! That’s a lot of time to do a ton of exciting and productive things. Just trade in your retirement for a bit of re-fire-ment!