Why Not Feeling Your Age is a Good Thing

Don't act your age!

Don’t act your age!

As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to a lot of podcasts.  Case in point: this morning I was listening to Lewis Howes‘s The School of Greatness podcast, and it struck me that I, as a 46-year-old guy, was listening to advice from someone who’s 32, and there’s absolutely no issue there for me.  I know a lot of people who would look at that and say “what could he possibly know that I haven’t learned about life in the extra fourteen years I have on him?”

I don’t think of it that way.  His experiences in life are different than mine; his motivations and passions are different; and there’s always room for learning from people who come from different worlds than me.  And the age thing is just another way in which that is true.  I don’t feel that the age difference between Lewis Howes and me makes a darned bit of difference.  I am still learning from him, no matter how old I am and how old he is.  I follow some other guys who are in their 20s in places like Twitter, Facebook, other podcasts, and more.  I also follow people who are the same age as or older than I am.

But that led me to another thought:  do I feel like I’m 46?  I was sitting at home the other day realizing that in four years I’m going to hit my mid-century mark.  And to be frank, that really doesn’t scare me much at all.  I have no plans to stop what I’m doing in the realm of health, fitness, and lifestyle because I have done the research for myself to realize a few things:

1.  Age isn’t just a number: it’s a mindset.

A lot of people fear age as a time of your body breaking down.  And that’s true, if you’re going to listen to conventional wisdom about things like health, exercise, and nutrition.  But we know things about those topics now that are becoming increasingly well known – things like the low-fat/high-carb diet craze being the cause of many of our health woes; the dangers of stress in our lives; the importance of sleep; how nature isn’t just a pleasant place to hang out on occasion but is actually essential to our well-being; and much more.

When you grasp these concepts and integrate them into your life you can turn things around.  There are tons of testimonials online that talk about these things, and now the studies are beginning to come out to verify that these things are true.

2.  Not feeling your age can mean never ceasing to learn.

A lot of people who are older get into a mindset where they don’t feel like they can learn new things.  They feel that the world has passed them by, in some respects, and they want to hold on to the things that make them comfortable.  But that misses the entire point of life, in my opinion:  the opportunity to experience life, conquer fears, and grow as a person.

There was a report in the news recently about retailers feeling the pinch of lower sales as fewer people are looking for things to fill their lives, and instead are looking for experiences.  And I think that’s true.  Seeking new experiences and learning new things is the whole reason that we are on this earth.  I look at communities like the Being James Bond community that I’ve been a part of for years now, and while there’s a certain “stuff” component to James Bond fanhood, the focus of that site is definitely on the doing.  The tagline of the site is “if James Bond can do it, we can do it.”

Not being afraid to be a beginner in things and to learn more is one of those synchronicity things that feeds back upon itself.  Starting new things and enjoying that learning process builds a new outlook that gives us a fresh mindset, which makes us feel younger – and then drives us to more new stuff.  Learning truly makes us younger – there are scientific studies that talk about how reading a lot and learning languages and things that are similar keep our brains growing and moving.

Habits have been described as “ski-slopes in your mind.”  Think of a ski slope – it’s a path down a mountain that everyone takes, over and over, until trees won’t even grow there, even in the off-season.  And all the area around those slopes is nearly impassable because of trees, streams, and more.  That’s what habits are: trails in your mind that are keeping you in the same place and on the same path, no matter what you do.

Learning new stuff creates new slopes that may cut across the old slopes, blazing new trails across those streams and through those trees.  And in the case of neural pathways, it forces new neurons to be used.  And, as I’ve harped on many times on this blog, constant movement is the key to proper strength and health. Keeping your brain moving is one of the keys to the health of that vital organ of the body.

3.  Our souls have no age.

You may think I’m getting a little woo-woo here, but I think it’s an important way to look at life.  You’ll hear a lot of personal development teachers talk about your real self – that person that is the true you that sits behind your experiences in life, without being attached to those experiences, and observes what is happening to you. Check out the works of two of my mentors, J.B. Glossinger and Paul Kyriazi for more on this idea.

Some people use this observer idea to transcend pain and suffering (read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, the story and study of what he learned in a Nazi concentration camp, for more on this topic). others use it to detach from the world during practices like meditation or prayer, and still others use it as I do: to look at this life as the sum of our experiences without becoming attached to them.  These three facets of the detached observer concept are all related – they remove us from our experiences and create our true identity as an ageless being.

Toldja I was getting a little woo-woo here.

But here’s the practical side of this idea:  if we are not the sum of our experiences, but rather an observer looking in on our experiences, then the experience of aging is not who we are at all.  Instead, any experiences we have are just our true observer self checking out this world into which we’ve inserted ourselves.  And that opens up the world to being just a series of those experiences.

And substituting the word “soul” for observer is an easy thing to do here.  The concept is exactly the same.

Not feeling your age doesn’t mean abandoning responsibilities.

No one is telling you that you need to act like a child in all areas to feel ageless, or even that this is a good thing.  We all have responsibilities in life, whether those be family, community, employment, or what have you. Fulfilling those responsibilities improves our lot in life and makes our experiences more rewarding. But what we are talking here is our outlook on those responsibilities and everything else around us.

And having those responsibilities and fulfilling them is yet another experience – a positive one that shows we are working to make things better.  We can also work to remove those responsibilities – such as starting a new business in a field we love so that we can leave an 9-to-5 job.  But we’re not talking about abandoning responsibilities.

So when we’re that gray-hair running the Tough Mudder, or climbing trees with our kids, or heading out to catch the latest superhero movie on opening night, or taking advice from someone half our age, we’re entirely on the right track with life.  Enjoy it, relish it, and experience what is out there – no matter how many times you’ve been around the sun.

What do you think of this? Is age something that keeps you from doing something?  Discuss in the comments below!