What exactly does it mean to be “forever young”? When I was in my 20s, I thought it meant staying wrinkle-free and doing cartwheels until I was 100. When I was in my 30s, it meant I wouldn’t gain those extra pounds every time I merely looked at a slice of cake, and also remembering exactly where I parked my car. When I was in my 40s, being forever young meant not making those annoying little moaning noises every time I sat in a chair or bent down to tie my shoes. And forever young meant never (and I mean never) wearing my pants so high that they touched my bra. I also vowed not to give away hard candies to strangers or be a cranky old fart. (Not that I’m judging! I know some perfectly wonderful cranky old farts.)
Now that I’m in my mid-50s, I’m gaining new perspective on this forever young thing. Funny how that happens. Being forever young has so little to do with the physical aspects I cherished in my earlier years. It isn’t about doing gymnastics while I vacuum the house. Or staying the same size I was in high school. It’s so much more than that. It’s about guts. It’s about attitude. It’s about laughing hard. It’s about not caring one iota what other people think of you. It is about freedom to be yourself—truly and completely. I love this new perspective so much I made a list of what I am doing to stay forever young. Maybe you’d like to join in the fun. Check it out:
- Smile a lot. Sounds cliché, but there is indeed scientific evidence that smiling increases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, which make you feel good. And feeling good is the best way to feel young. Like magic! Think Candid Camera!
- Breathe fresh air. If you’re indoors all day breathing recycled, stale, nasty air, one of the best things you can do is get outside and breathe fresh air. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. Clean air and deep breathing increase the oxygen levels in your body, which benefits, well … everything!
- Take long walks. Walking is my exercise of choice. I choose parking spots far from the store entrance just so I can walk a little extra. And walking in nature is my most favorite. Whether it’s walking, yoga, weight training, biking, qigong, dancing, or some other form of exercise, make sure you shake your booty every single day. Get to it!
- Spend less time online. Get off the darn computer, cell phone, or tablet and look at the world around you. Using these devices usually means you’re sitting too much with generally bad posture. (And I see that bag of yummy potato chips you’re munching on while you’re scrolling down your Facebook page. Can you pass a few to me?) So, unplug for a while and drink a cup of green tea.
- Delete the worry button. Worrying gives you wrinkles. There. I said it. It makes you look and feel old, worn out, and tired. Just cut it out. I love the quote “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow.It empties today of its strength” by Corrie Ten Boom. Words to live by. Stop being a worrywart, as my mother used to say.
- Cancel plans. Seriously! Sounds strange, but if you’re not feeling the groove, don’t make the move. Stay home. Read a book. Light a candle. Take a bath. No need to stay out late or do things that don’t bring you enjoyment. Put on your fuzzy slippers and enjoy your own company.
- Make different plans. Now, if you’re feeling a little guilty that you bailed on your friends (see #6), make other plans with them. Tell them that instead of going to the same old bar, you’d rather go hiking or take a yoga class. Make plans that nourish your body, mind, and spirit and you’ll be feeling young and sassy in no time. And if they don’t want to go, do it yourself.
- Speak your mind. Do your ever wonder why Grandma can say the most outrageous things at Thanksgiving and no one tells her to hush? That’s because she knows a secret. It’s an amazing secret. She knows that speaking her mind just feels so good. Holding it in is toxic. Speak your mind. Tell people how you feel. Kids and old people do it, and there’s a reason. Try it!
- Laugh. Watch a funny movie. Go to a comedy club. Hang out with people who make you laugh. Laughter is healing. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America actually recommend laughter therapy. What does that tell you? Just for a giggle, here’s one of my quotes. “Laugh until your belly hurts and then just a little bit more.”—Katrina Mayer
- Only spend time with people you like. Don’t spend time with toxic people. They steal your joy and suck the life out of you. And that doesn’t leave you feeling forever young, does it? Pick friends that lift you up and nourish your spirit. Those are the kind of people worth your time!
- Stay off the scale. UGH! That contraption shows you a number that has nothing to do with your value as a human being. Unless your doctor has recommended that you weigh yourself regularly, there’s no need to step on the scale. So cut it out. OK?
- Be creative. Kids spend all day being creative. Crayons, clay, paints, musical instruments, dolls, trucks all exercise creativity and the imagination. Keep your brain fresh and young by being creative. Take an art class. Write a poem. Compose a song. Good stuff!
- Learn something new. Expand your brain. Stimulate those brain cells. Generate new neural pathways. Stay sharp. Learn a new skill. Try a new recipe. Drive down a road you’ve never driven on. That’s the way to exercise our brains and keep them in tip-top shape.
- Eat lots of plants. I may be biased here, as I’ve been vegan for almost 20 years. But, eating plants (fruits, veggies, greens) really does help me stay happier and healthier. And lots of scientific evidence is pouring in now to support this. You don’t have to be vegan. Just get a few more servings of fruits and veggies every day and you’ll help your heart and body stay young!
- Hang around with kids and animals. One of my fave things to do is hang around with kids and animals. They don’t have the same filters adult humans have. They help you stay silly and relaxed and in the moment. They really help you see the world from a different perspective.
Well, these are my favorite 15 ways to stay feeling forever young. So far they are working pretty well. Check back with me in another few decades and we’ll see how I’ve done. In the meantime, what are your favorite ways to stay youthful? Care to share your favorite ideas to stay young and vibrant? You are welcome to leave them in the comments.
Wishing you a day filled with childlike wonder,