Back in 1960, when I was a 12 year old 6th grader, I remember reading a magazine article that contained a mortality rate chart for U.S. citizens.
For men it was 67 years while the average life expectancy for women was 73. Although those numbers seem low when compared to our 2017 national numbers of 76 (men) and 81 (women), they were impressive compared to 60 years before that.
At the dawn of the 20th century, the average woman could be expected to live 48 years while her male counterpart made it only until he reached the age of 46.
Since 1900, or 117 years ago, our average life expectancy has increased by a whopping 30 years! Much of that increase can be attributed to lower infant mortality rates, medical breakthroughs, the relatively recent lack of world wars and the even more recent trend towards healthier lifestyles.
But even with an average life expectancy of 79 years, that ranks the U.S. at only 53rd in the world. Additionally, even though people are living longer than ever, many times the quality of those lives in the so-called ‘later years’ can leave much to be desired; the biggest culprit being age-related diseases.
Could 100 Be The New 70?
Recently, from 2015 to 2016, life expectancy in the U.S. has experienced a slight decline. Couple that with the already dubious state of the qaulity of life for many older people, maybe it's time for a paradigm shift with regards to growing older? After all, what's the point of living longer if one can't remain youthful and active enough to really enjoy their life?
Up until now people have relied, for the most part, on the forementioned scientific breakthroughs and modern health care practices to extend their lifespans. But what if you're not satisfied to live to only 80 or 85? What if you want to maintain your youthfullness, health and vigor to 100… or maybe even longer?
It's no longer an option to depend on current medical procedures and health care practices to ensure that we arrive at 100 years of age ‘in style’, so to speak. It will take a radical paradigm shift as to what it means to grow older.
Just like 60 used to be called the new 40, why not take that same concept and ratchet it up to a higher number? How does “100 is the new 70” sound?
Preparing To Be Ridiculed
Some notable examples of a radical idea that was initially ridiculed:
- The earth being round rather than flat
- The earth revolves around the sun
- radio waves being able to travel through air without wires
- A powered flying machine
- The mile being run in under 4 minutes
- Man making a voyage to the moon and back
- A solid sub-atomic particle sometimes behaving as a wave form
- A free solo climb of El Capitan
There are, of course, many more less famous but eqaully insane ideas that were first ridiculed as ridiculous notions. Let's add one more to the list…
“Living to 100 years of age (and beyond) while maintaining youthfullness, vitality, mental alertness and remaining free from age-related diseases.”
There are many who might take exception to the validity of this precept and it's not difficult to see why. Just a quick look at the general population will reveal that there are really not that many centenarians (just over 53,000 in the U.S. or 0.0173% of the population) walking around, much less ones who have retained their youthfulness and have continued to enjoy an active lifestyle.
Obviously, living to 100 has not been accepted as self-evident yet.
But when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, once he showed that it was possible, many runners went on to accomplish the feat. Just because something has not yet reached ‘self-evident’ status, doesn't make it untrue or not possible. The earth has ALWAYS been round just like El Capitan has ALWAYS been able to be free soloed.
Which brings us to this quesion: Why do only 0.0173% of Americans live past 100 years old?
The simple answer would be to list factors such as genetcs, lifestyle choices like diet and exercise, reducing stress, etc. Certainly all of those are valid reasons as to why someone might live longer. BUT… none of them, either by themselves or combined, are the most important thing when it comes to living to 100 years old.
The Collective Aging Mindset
Changing any long held perception about something is really a matter of rearranging what you believe to be possible. Before it was proven that the earth was a globe, it was functionally flat for all it's human inhabitants. Until the Wright Brothers invented the airplane, it was impossible for anyone to fly (and not die in the process).
Now that we are beginning to see a relatively small percentage of the population in their 70's, 80's and 90's that continue to live active lives, free from age-related diseases, we are gaining a glimpse of what's really possible.
Now-a-days people routinely fly around the globe on a regular basis; just like more people will eventually be living past 100, and doing it in style.
It's difficult however to change your beliefs about what it means to grow older when you are a real-time witness to what I like to call ‘The Collective Aging Mindset’. All around you are people suffering from age-related diseases such as; arthritis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, type II diabetes, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer's, etc. This sad state of affairs is now considered to be a ‘normal’ part of aging.
It doesn't matter that physiologically, our cells have the capacity to replace themselves in a matter of a few days to a few months, depending on the specific bodily tissue that they make up. When you are surrounded by undeniable ‘proof’ that the body does actually succumb to disease and die, well before reaching the century mark, it's very difficult to believe anything to the contrary.
But the ‘The Collective Aging Mindset’ is only perpetuated because people are not aware of the true capabilities of their body's ability to age significantly slower… and much more gracefully. It's time to develop some new beliefs as to what's possible when it comes to growing chronologically older. Outdated opinions concerning the aging process doesn't make them true. Just like the earth has ALWAYS revolved around the sun, no amount of archaic knowledge could ever make that fact un-true.
Outside In or Inside Out
Lifestyle changes can make a big difference on how you age… but it goes much deeper than that. You've got to re-define what you believe regarding the aging process. A radical paradigm shift is necessary if you want to quit buying into ‘The Collective Aging Mindset’. It begins with how you look at your world.
Notice I said your world. Have you ever wondered how people can live completely disparate lives? Some are rich, some are poor. Many are happy, many others are sad. A few are super healthy, a significant number are constantly sick. Some maintain their youthfullness, no matter what their chronological age happens to be, while the majority don't age quite so gracefully.
The reasons for these disparities go far beyond outside influences. While 99.9% of the world is busy reacting to and blaming outside circumstances and events for the quality of their lives, the remaining, but much smaller percentage, realize that their attitude, thoughts, beliefs, outlook, perspective, philosophy (whatever you want to call it) is the underlying cause of what is happening in their physical world.
If you really ‘get’ that concept, it's not hard to see that all of us are living in our own unique universe, created in large part by how we choose to perceive it.
Yes, that includes how you age!
There is nothing new here; more than a few writers, poets, philosopers, heads of state, spiritual masters, mystics and other thought leaders throughout history have expressed this idea much more succintly than I ever could…
“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth”
“The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane”
“Belief means not wanting to know what is true”
“When nothing is sure, everything is possible”
“The only freedom is freedom from the known”
“The only thing lacking in any situation is what you're not providing”
“Nothing is impossible for a man who refuses to listen to reason”
“Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?”
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth”
“Care what other people think and you will always be their prisoner”
Beliefs Are Bullshit
Beliefs are just stories that we have heard from others that we keep repeating over-and-over to ourselves until they become our reality.
Since there's no way to say this nicely, I'll just be honest… they're all BULLSHIT. Following are a few stories about growing older that you've no doubt heard before:
- I'm not getting any younger
- Age-related diseases are to be expected
- My memory isn't what it used to be
- My energy isn't what it used to be
- I don't want to live to 100
- Older people are a burden to their kids
- The quality of my life will diminish as I get older
- I trust in our health care system to keep me healthy
I'm not saying that anyone should live forever or that we should look the same at 80 as when we were 20. But when you stop telling yourself stories about the aging process that simply aren't true, it's entirely possible to increase both the length and quality of your life.
You could begin by telling yourself a different story of what it means for you to age. A more enlightened storyline will naturally inspire you to integrate anti-aging activites unto your life that are known to promote health and longevity. You are probably already aware of most of them:
- Eat healthier
- Eat less
- Improve flexibilty
- Maintain strength
- Reduce stress
- Be happier
By changing your mindset and shifting your focus from how everyone else seems to be handling the aging process TO how you would prefer to grow older; that's what will propel you past conventional ‘wisdom’ and enable you to bust loose from those archaic aging thought patterns.
Eventually you will get to the point where you genuinely accept that:
“Your present life, your health, and how you age, are simply reflections of your inner-most thoughts and beliefs about yourself.”
When you are able to make this internal shift in awareness, the clean eating, exercise, yoga, meditation, supplementation and eliminating stress will be integrated more-or-less effortlessly into your daily life, without any struggle. All of these so-called anti-aging activities will serve to seamlessly support your new belief structure as to what it means to grow older.
You Are More Than Just A Number!
Your chronological age is just a number; a comparative guideline. That number makes it easier for society to classify you so that you can then be conveniently placed in the proper age-appropriate category. I say fuck that.
Realizing and accepting the true essence of your being will allow you to re-categorize and re-classify yourself any which way you want to. It's your life and you have the power to live it in anyway you choose. If that means throwing the proverbial rusty crescent wrench into society's concept of aging, then so be it.
The secret to staying young cannot be found out there in the so-called ‘real’ world. Look inside yourself for the answer. That's where you will always find the truth.