The number one reason why some folks age much faster than others is not the usual suspects: lack of exercise, poor nutrition or sub-par genes. While these three are major players to be sure, none of them is the big kahuna of accelerated aging -- that title clearly belongs to one's mental focus. The thoughts we entertain on a regular basis have greater power than anything else to dramatically speed up or slow down aging. Here's why.
We all have desires, goals and dreams. We also have beliefs about what is possible for us to do, be or have. Beliefs are really just habits of thought, which all too often are based on erroneous assumptions and misperceptions from our past. Beliefs are often created in childhood before logic is fully developed. When our habitual thinking / beliefs are at odds with our desires, a strong tension or resistance, if you will, is created between reality (what we're living) and our dreams or desires (what we wish to live). The greater the disparity between what we want and what we perceive as possible, the greater the stress AND the faster we age because stress is the great ager.
Let's look at how this self-induced stress ages us from a purely biological point of view. Biologically, stress is dealt with as if there were a saber-tooth tiger about to pounce on you. At that threat-to-your-very-existence moment, all energies are diverted into preparing to do battle or run away. No resources are wasted on digesting food, fighting microbes or repairing/regenerating cells because survival in the moment takes priority (if you become the big cat's lunch, what good will all those usual cellular functions do?) Whether there's an actual beast about to attack, an angry boss or beliefs and desires that don't match, the body treats it all the same -- as if there's an imminent threat to your survival.
When what you are interested in being, doing or having is closely aligned with what you believe is possible or probable, you are happy and fulfilled and stress is low. In this situation, since there is no immediate external threat to survival "perceived," all bodily energies can go into digesting food, killing microbes and repairing/regenerating cells damaged or destroyed by free radicals ... In this state, aging is slowed.
Folks who age the fastest are focused on being stuck where they don't want to be. Their current life situation doesn't jive with their dreams of what they would rather be living. Recently I wrote about Virginia's Susan Jennings who, at age 46, was stuck, or mentally focused, where she didn't want to be -- at 274 pounds. By refocusing her thoughts to where she'd rather be, in less than two years Susan had lost 135 pounds and become an ultra-marathon runner. Recently, she came in fifth among all the women in a 50K (31-mile running race). At age 48 she's biologically much younger and happier than she was years earlier because she more closely aligned her beliefs (her habits of thought) with her desires (her vision of where she'd rather be). With her new, improved mental focus, Susan was able to take the action steps that she now knew with certainty would lead her to a more desired body size and image. This change of mental focus made it possible for Susan to completely transform her life and vastly slow the aging process.
How closely aligned are your beliefs to your dreams and wishes for the future? Remember, more than exercise, a good diet or a great set of genes, your mental focus determines how fast you age. Focus your thoughts less on where you are (unless, of course, you like it there!) and more on where you'd rather be and in time, you'll be inspired to take the action steps that will take you there and keep you younger.
Ed Mayhew is a professional speaker and the author of Fitter After 50, Fitter for Life and AGE BLASTERS: 3 Steps to a Younger You www.YouCanGrowYounger.com www.FitterForLife.com Ask for your F*R*E*E* Fitter After 50 e-newsletter