Aging gracefully through healthy thinking

Ageless couple having fun

Ageless couple having fun

A friend of mine who was in her 90’s, very active and energetic, said that when she looked in the mirror, she was always shocked.  She would ask herself, “Who is that wrinkled, old lady? That can’t be me!”  She never felt 90 or thought of herself as being in her 90’s, nor did she ever act like it.

“We have heard the expression, ‘you are what you eat,’ but what about, ‘you are what you think?” suggests Robin Afinowich, a firm believer in the power of our thinking and spirituality to improve our well being. She continues, “Our thoughts and emotions have a profound impact on our health.  If you approach aging with negative attitudes you are more likely to experience negative effects.”

Mary Baker Eddy, author of a best-selling book on spirituality and health based on the Bible and Jesus’ healings, had a lot to say also about the role thought plays in how we age. She said: “Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.”  Further, she advises us “to shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”

Afinowich, like Eddy, says we “tend to focus on the negative aspects of aging rather than the beauty of greater wisdom, life experience and spiritual clarity.”

As Afinowich implies in her quote, it’s more than just positive thinking; it’s gaining wisdom and greater spirituality that contribute positively to aging.  One study on Spirituality and Aging states: “spirituality and religious participation are highly correlated with positive successful aging, as much as diet, exercise, mental stimulation, self-efficiency and social connectedness.”

Interest in spirituality and aging has increased recently, owing to overwhelming evidence of positive health outcomes linked to spirituality and religious participation.  Increasing longevity in modern society puts spiritual needs of older adults at the forefront of societal priorities.”

Curious about the role of spirituality in aging well, I asked a friend, who is a medical nurse and works on the gerontology floor in an area hospital, this question: “How important is spirituality in the recovery of your patients?”  She said she considered spirituality, prayer, meeting the spiritual needs of a patient the #1 benefit to recovery.  Patients demonstrated more happiness and hope, were less susceptible to pain and spent far less time complaining.

Research shows that “patients want to be seen and treated as whole people, not as disease states.  Being a whole person implies having physical, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions.  Ignoring any of these aspects can interfere with healing.”  This research goes on to say, “In healthcare systems, many patients want their physicians to integrate religion; over 75% want their physicians to include spiritual issues in their care.”

Americans over 90 and into their 100’s have a love of life, a sense of humor, and often share strong spiritual beliefs, according to Lynn Adler, founder of the National Centenarian Awareness Project.  Several centenarians profiled, ranging in age from 94 to 102 share a common thread that leads to a happier and healthier life.  They concentrate on having a purpose, remaining productive, helping others.

One of the women at 102 said “her golden years are like sparkling diamonds.”  Meeting people is  as if love is radiating.  “It’s a great feeling.”

How are you feeling about yourself?  Do you feel or see yourself as aging and being able to do less and less or as “a sparkling diamond  … radiating love” to our communities and families?

Keeping in our thinking a healthy view will allow us to recognize our innate, never lessening spiritual strength and ability to age with vitality and grace

Let’s feel great about ourselves now and now and now!

photo by Beyounger.com uploaded from flickr.com

Kate is interested in blogging about health, spirituality, Christian Science, science, the importance of prayer and religion.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.  She and her husband enjoy hiking, especially with Callie, a Blue Heeler, and riding motorcycles. 

 


2 Comments

  1. Love this blog!