I walked into the gym the other morning and staked my claim on a bench in the weight room.
Another member, someone I know on a “hi, how are you?” basis sat next to me. He’s very thin, a little hunched over, with a weathered face, looking as if he either worked outdoors or was an avid surfer for a good part of his life.
I guessed his age for early 60s.
I nodded a good morning to him, not knowing this small gesture would open a Pandora’s Box stream of consciousness for which I was completely unprepared.
“I had a birthday yesterday,” he says.
“Happy birthday!” I say, getting my dumbbells off the rack and hoping against all hope this was not leading into some big introspective conversation worthy of a trip to a mountaintop and visit with a guru.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy deep discussions, just not A. in the gym, and B. not at 5 a.m., before my brain has completely booted up for the day.
Unfortunately, hope did not prevail. Cue the mountaintop guru.
“It was a big one,” he continues. “I turned 60.”
“Really?” I say, trying to be polite, which at this hour of the morning took more energy than my entire lifting routine. Normally I’d say something like, “You don’t look it at all!” but he kind of did. And I’m a horrible liar.
“Yeah. I’m bummed.”
“Why? It’s no biggie,” I said, half-heartedly, immediately regretting continuing the conversation because I wanted to focus on my workout.
“I’m depressed because 60 is when you’re officially ‘old,'” he sighed. He then continued to talk about how “life is so short… everything hurts… always tired… seems like only yesterday I was blah, blah…”
I don’t remember the rest of the monologue because I immediately fixated on that number: 60
I turn 58 in a few weeks, so it’s not as if I’m looking far into the future. Many of my friends are 60+ and are far from ready to call it quits. If not for cremation brochures I’d never even give age a thought.
Seriously, you don’t even qualify for the Smucker’s jar until you’re 100.
My age only bothers me when I think of all I want to accomplish in my lifetime.
Otherwise, I laugh maniacally with each turn of the calendar page. (Okay, maybe not exactly, but I don’t cringe as some people do.)
So by now this guy (I don’t even know his name) had been droning on for who-knows-how-long, to the point where I’m having Ebenezer Scrooge visions of headstones with my name. I am also looking for another part of the gym to park myself.
It took me a while to shake off that snippet of a conversation, because I never really thought of a particular age as “officially old.”
Do you get a plaque once you turn 60, to signify the event?
What makes it “official”?
And who’s officiating such a thing? Clearly no one told these ageless athletes to slow down.
I quickly realized I let someone else’s old-age mindset affect my own.
I think of “old” as a way of thinking, not any chronological number. In my mind, some 20-year olds are “old” and some 90-year olds are “young.”
Your outlook, sense of humor and focus determine your real age.
Sure, bad stuff happens, but it’s how you deal with it and where you go from that point on that keeps you young… or ages you.
Check out these expert tips for other ways to keep an ageless mindset:
Another way for being “mindful,” by focusing on the here and now you stop worrying about the future or dwell on the past. Put down your phone, iPad or massive to-do list and gaze out the window. Go for a walk in the silence and focus on each footstep and simply breathe. Call a friend or family member and give her 100% of your attention – don’t multitask. You’ll get more out of every minute.
Life isn’t always a laugh-a-minute, but parts of it are pretty hilarious. As you may have noticed, I tend to see the funny parts. I found that – surprise! – people like to be around others who make them laugh and have less time for people who do nothing but bitch and moan. The latter does nothing but make everyone around you as miserable as you, like my gym friend did to me. Plus, laughing burns calories and gets your endorphins pumping, which makes it good for your health at the same time it keeps you young.
We are hardest on ourselves. How often do you brush aside a compliment (“Oh, I’ve had this old thing for so long…”) instead of saying simply, “thank you”? Ignore the voices that tell you you “can’t” do something, or you’re “too old,” or anything along these lines. Ignore the voices, whether they’re in your own head or coming from someone else, and then take action to prove the naysayers wrong.
Make it a point to start your day on a positive note. If reading political Facebook posts bring you down, take a break from all of it. Ditto for listening to the news or being around negative people. Surround yourself with music you love, upbeat messages (I subscribe to a service that sends daily motivational notes), including podcasts and books, and you’ll feel better, younger and happier.
No one said life would be easy. But complaining and focusing on every little thing that doesn’t work out only makes it worse. Resolve to change what you can by taking small steps to get there instead of complaining to others about it. Same goes for social networking posts. Keep it upbeat and you’ll fee upbeat. Learn to go with the flow.
Do you have an Ageless mindset that keeps YOU young? Please share in the comments section below…
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Got questions? Email me at email@example.com and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
Until next time…
Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.