The old saying “you’re only as old as you feel” is not only scientifically backed, but recent research now reveals that the sentiment can actually help you live longer. Researchers first began to validate the health benefits having a “youthful” attitude several years ago in a study published the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the study, scientists found older people with positive views on aging were 44 percent more likely to recover fully after severe disability than those with negative views on aging. In more recent times, research has found that older people who felt three or more years younger than their actual (chronological) age had a lower death rate compared with those who felt their age or those who felt more than one year older than their actual age.
If you don’t naturally feel “peppy” or young, don’t worry. With just a little practice and some good habits you can begin to think and even feel younger. Start with these three simple steps:
Stay in the present. Thinking too much about the past and your youth, or about getting old in the future may only bring on feelings of depression. Try your best to bring your attention to the present moment.
Don’t give up on your passions. Sure, you may not be able to play basketball like you used to or water ski like you could when you were young, but that doesn’t mean those hobbies have to go out the window with age. It just means they likely have to be modified—you may still be able to shoot hoops, just not play intense games, and maybe you can’t ski anymore, but you can still enjoy the water by swimming.
Think outside of yourself. When you focus solely on yourself, your needs, pleasure or pain, you’re likely to experience more difficulty with the aging process. Focus on something larger than yourself, whether that’s connecting with people close to you or helping improve the lives of others.