Book: Aging Beyond Belief by Don ArdellIf you plan to age, prepare yourself — it's later than you think. The challenge of aging well should be taken seriously, but not grimly! Whatever your age, it's never too soon, or too late, to learn and apply the fine art of aging well, really well. Discover what aspects of aging can't be changed and improve the rest that can. Mold your own realities with REAL wellness, Ardell-style.
The 69 tips — one for each year of the author's life — are thought-provoking, challenging, eye-opening, manageable and fun to read. And all provide practical guidance for intelligently designing your own life-style evolution.
Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)
What do you think might be better than sex? A New York Times article featured the preferences of several celebrities. One, Emma Thompson, said “dancing with Prince Charles was better;” Hunter S. Thompson gave the nod to politics. The article concludes with the observation that while we can’t agree on what’s better than sex, the very fact that such comparison are common indicates “we still take for granted that sex can be pretty good.” (Margo Kaplan, “The Joyless Law of Sex,” Washington Post Opinions, November 22, 2013.
I did not find any of the suggested preferences better than sex, though I can think of a few, such as oxygen, food, drink and Nobel prizes. I also think the capacity to die healthy is better than sex.
If it were easy to lead a healthy life and simple to find and maintain a satisfying line of work, everybody would be doing it. Can you imagine a college kid, about to graduate, responding this way to a question about her dreams for the future: "Well, when I reach forty, I want to be depressed, overweight, married to a real putz, addicted to tobacco and on the verge of a heart attack." Not likely. Nobody plans for misery, dysfunction or a high-risk life profile. Few young people expect a future rife with misery, boredom, conflict and negativity. Yet, look around. Note the commonplace reality of such conditions for those already forty or older—they didn't plan for such situations, either! Nobody plans to be unhappy, unhealthy and trapped in turmoil. Why, then, are such situations more the norm than the exception?
If you wish to die healthy but not anytime soon, recognize barriers to living the high quality life that makes dying healthy possible. Mental preparation or rehearsal will improve your chances for exceptional well-being. If you want to go out this way, be sure to take the first logical step on the road to a life marked by REAL wellness attitudes and behaviors: create a strategy that will prepare you for and enable you to overcome the obstacles that will otherwise bar the way.
Four General Barriers to Dying Healthy
The first obstacle is innocence—not consciously aware of the cold fact that good health is no accident. You have to know there is such a thing as exceptional physical well-being and advanced mental acumen founded on reason to have any chance of realizing either.
Another obstacle is the likelihood that you can expect precious little assistance from your friends or the larger cultural network of which you are a part. REAL wellness has no natural enemies—who would oppose such a wondrous life? Yet, it is not the default lifestyle. To know about and to choose and sustain efforts at quality lifestyles, you have to face and resist customs, traditions, patterns and norms that are not supportive of dying healthy—and that is very difficult to do.
A third obstacle is that you are probably getting a late start. Ideally, good health habits are modeled by parents and other influential in the attitudes and behaviors that are formed in childhood. By the time most people, even those who have the good fortune to learn of more healthful ways to live, they are over-fat, stressed, out of shape, concerned about risk factors and dependent on doctors, medications and a treatment-focused medical system.
Are you beginning to appreciate the formidable nature of barriers to REAL wellness?
A fourth obstacle is that it is so easy to settle for less. Most want to be normal. Normal, unfortunately, is in itself a barrier. The standard of normalcy is far too low.
Being normal encourages people to assume that they are healthy enough! This is illusory. I know people who think they are doing pretty well if they're able to get out of bed in the morning—especially if the aches, pains and miseries are bearable.
To die healthy is to experience a life of high quality. Such a life is rich in reason and science, exuberance and happiness, meaning and purpose, lifelong athleticism in a functional body with great personal freedoms. These are characteristic of die healthy functioning and mindsets. It is the alternative to the prevailing standard of underachievement.
In addition to the four general obstacles, there are lesser but still hazardous barriers. Among them are the following:
Well, enough of that. You get the idea. Now you know that barriers must be identified, understood, respected and overcome with careful planning and a sustained determination to move forward wisely, despite setbacks, plots, bad luck and whatever comes your way.
Living well to the degree that you can die healthy is an art form. You have to take the role of becoming and staying well seriously. You have to shape your best results. Henry David Thoreau might have had REAL wellness in mind when he wrote that “we are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and bones.
(Ed. Note: Views expressed in this and other columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of the SeekWellness Editorial Board.)
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