I was savoring my ritual cappuccino across the street from my dentist’s office as I did every time I went there, when this incredibly handsome young guy sat down two tables over. Our eyes met and he smiled seductively. I practically choked on my biscotti. I could have sworn I knew him from somewhere… But it wasn’t the gym… He sipped his sparkling water and gave me a little wave. I felt myself blushing like a teenager. Where the heck could I know him from? He was so young. And I have been married a long time.
Oh my God, I thought, as he started to walk over. Could this amazing hunk possibly be hitting on me? Ridiculous. No way! I could be his mother. Thank God in heaven I just had my teeth cleaned.
He grinned broadly and said, “Hi! Remember me?!” I was at a complete loss. I was definitely going to have my memory checked. He went on, “I’m Andy!” Andy Carter!” Carter… Carter… from the tennis club? He continued, “I was on your son’s basketball team in middle school.” I sat there frozen with an absurd smile on my face and a sudden urge to evaporate into thin air.
Age reminders happen to everyone at some point. It could be as simple as the appearance of a single grey hair, the first time someone calls you “ma’am,” or perhaps walking into a room and forgetting the reason why. None of us can stop time, but we can slow down the aging effects – and sometimes even reverse them. Can anyone here spell BOTOX?
A mere 100 years ago, people were lucky to live beyond the age of 40. Now, modern medical science is striving to keep us alive well into our nineties and beyond, and most people say they want to live as long as possible. But who wants to live to be 100 without their health, vitality, and faculties intact? And frankly, who wants to look 90, when you can be taken for a strapping 84? That’s where lifestyle choices come in. The key to healthy longevity, according to UCLA aging specialist Dr. Gary Small, is to keep it all together – our brains, our bodies, and our attitudes.
For our brains, he suggests keeping them young and agile with puzzles and other challenges such as learning a foreign language or taking up a new hobby like painting. For our bodies, it’s the old ‘use it or lose it’ theory – a 10 to 20 minute walk each day is enough to keep the cardiovascular system in shape. Of course, more is better. And attitude, well, it’s like the old Jefferson Airplane lyric, “You’re only pretty as you feel.”
Gigi Vorgan is co-author of with Dr. Gary Small of “iBrain: Surviving the Technical Alteration of the Modern Mind” (Harper-Collins, October, 2008) as well as several other books. Visit http://www.DrGarySmall.com for more information.
This post can also be viewed at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-simple-life/200906/youre-only-young-you-feel