Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Birthdays are Bad for Your Health

Today is my birthday. Yep, I’m writing this at 32,000 feet heading to San Francisco and I celebrated with a glass of tonic water and a tapas box. But driving to the airport this morning I was startled when my husband called, sang happy birthday and then asked, “so, how does it feel to be 58?” Really? Am I that old? Well, technically the answer is yes. My carbon form has traversed this planet for 58 years along with millions of others; eating, sleeping, playing, working. If we count the days, I’ve probably been here longer than most people. But why count the days? Seriously, paying too close attention to your age is bad for your health.

Okay this is a little tongue-in-cheek but the studies of Ellen Langer on aging and mindset are amazing. She believes that some of our physical limitations of age are as much or more a part of the mind as they are of the body. Her studies place participants in situations that replicate what life was like 20-30 years prior. For a week they talk and live as though it was 1984. The results are lower blood pressure, better circulation and flexibility and even improved vision. All because the participants stopped living their age.

We all have concepts of age. That is why so many of us hate approaching milestone birthdays because all we can think about is aging. When we are continuously reminded of our age, we begin to act and feel that way, becoming more cautious because we fear getting hurt. Eventually our beliefs become our reality.

Aging is for the young, let’s face it. When you want to drive you can’t wait to be 17. Others can’t wait to vote at 18 or drink at 21 (okay, legally). Then all the rush to get older stops or at least it should, unless you really want an AARP card or Medicare.

Let’s face it, our bodies will remind us that we are aging, they don’t need any help. So what if we only celebrated birthdays but didn’t count them? How old would you be? How old would you feel? Counting birthdays doesn’t mean anything. Meaning is not found in the amount of days in your life, but the amount of life in your days.

So for me, today is a reason to have fun. I’m glad I’m here. But I’m not going to spoil it by counting the years. Nope I’m just going to enjoy today.

1 comment:

Lisa Sansom said...

So birthdays in of themselves aren't bad for your health. It seems that believing that aging is bad for you is what's bad for your health! :-) Happy bday to you - you are always so young at heart!