“Maybe this is what old feels like – to you,” I say to Marlena, with a wink. She gives me a funny look. Enough said, I tell myself – too much maybe. Maybe I’ll write an article about this.
One year later. Now Marlena says she doesn’t feel sixty-one.
Last night another friend of mine said, “My memory gets worse every day.” How much of that, I wondered, is observation and how much her expectation? When a thirty-year-old can’t think of a name, she attributes it to a temporary lapse; it will come to her in a minute or two. But someone sixty will often think, “I’m getting old, my memory is failing me.” If that’s really true, of my friend, that her memory is getting worse every day, he should see a doctor or a nutritionist (or a hypnotist!), start doing memory-improvement exercises, or something – not just assume this is some inevitable consequence of how long she’s been alive.
There is so much negative thinking around, especially in regard to getting older. “You can hypnotize yourself in the negative as well as for the positive,” I tell my clients, and it’s true. Keep thinking that way and you will feel sixty – you will feel a hundred before you’re even seventy!
Oh, and check out the edgier sequel to this article, "Sixty More?".
Here is an exercise you can do, to begin to get used to the idea of remaining healthy, vigorous, and mentally acute as you continue to age.
1. On paper (or in an electronic document) write, on the left “70”, “80”, “90”, “100”, “110”, and “120”, leaving space between them to write sentences each (if you want to stop at “110”, fine. I like to push the envelope.)
Starting with the highest number, write a few sentences about what you imagine your life is like at that age, assuming that you are healthy, vigorous, and mentally active and acute. For example:
110: I walk a mile every day, when the weather is decent. I read a lot these days, and I occasionally give short talks and interviews. I have resumed playing guitar. I travel occasionally, especially to beaches in warm places. I still see some clients, which keeps me on my toes, and I have several students who hang on my every word.
2. Now take yourself into a self-hypnotic or meditative state (see “Finding the Zone” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PC-E4BZE54, for an example of how to do this). For each of the ages you have listed, open your eyes and read what you wrote (maintaining that same altered state), then close them and visualize (with all your senses) yourself at that age, having that life.