How is Your New Year So Far?
Early in January, my wife and I sat down for our annual “New Year Planning Retreat”. We designate two to three hours at the start of the year to review our past year’s accomplishments and set goals for the next 12 months. We have been doing this for several years and find it to be a valuable and rewarding and it solidifies our bond with one another. In addition, it addresses one of my five secrets for living a happy, healthier, longer life — having goals and purpose in life. As we spent time addressing our future we reflected on our attitude about aging. As Baby Boomers, we have clearly entered the second half of our lives and we know how important attitude is to aging GRACEfully . I recently read an article written by Dr. Sharon Horesh Berquist for CNN entitled “5 Powerful Benefits of ‘Pro-Aging’ Thinking”, in which she reviewed conclusions from two longitudinal studies about the effects of our attitude on successful aging.
She wrote, “A favorable attitude toward aging can affect your health behaviorally, psychologically, and even biologically”. After 30 years caring for adults as they age, I have drawn the same conclusions.
Dr. Berquist listed five benefits of a “pro-aging” attitude from the Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging and Retirement and the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging.
- It can help you live longer
- It can reduce disability
- It can help you practice prevention
- It can boost your memory
- It can help your heart
Dr. Berquist addressed self-perception and stereotypical attitudes toward aging, but my observation about the benefits of a positive attitude is broader. I am convinced that those who have positive attitudes about their life, job, hobbies and relationships can extend their lives. Each time I encounter an individual who is celebrating a major milestone birthday, I learn about how their great attitude led to their longevity in life.
Despite our age, I know that we still can control how we think and that we are capable of reshaping our lives and our attitudes. The beginning of this New Year is a perfect time to push the reset button for a happier, healthier year and a longer life.
I encourage you to take the time to review these articles I have linked, assess your past year’s accomplishments and set goals for 2015. The process, I assure you, will bring a sense of accomplishment and purpose to the year.
To a long and happy life…
David Bernstein, MD