Is your health growing older by the minute?

© Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes.

© Glow Images. Models used for illustrative purposes.

Is time speeding up? Not really, but it sure feels that way. Everywhere I’ve  gone in my town of Point Cook recently, I’ve heard people saying that they can’t believe January is nearly over. Where has the month gone? Is it just “oldies” that feel this way? Apparently not. Even the younger-set are surprised at how quickly the days have flown-by since Christmas.

It makes you think about the passage of time and what it means for one’s health and life-style.  As one diner in my local food-court was heard to say, “I’m getting older with each tick of the clock.” It’s a bit depressing when one looks at aging that way. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite what we may think, there’s no evidence to suggest that time is toxic to us humans.

In an article for the Seattle Times, Richard Cutler of the National Institute of Health’s Gerontology Research Center states, “aging is unnatural… there may be no immutable biological law that decrees human beings have to get old and sick and die.” And in the same newspaper article, university biochemist Elliott Crooke says, “There is no clear reason why aging starts to occur. By design, the body should go on forever.”

If the remarks of those scientists are accepted, then aging is not caused by the number of sunrises and sunsets we accumulate, nor does this have to negatively impact our mental or bodily health. It would seem entirely possible for our faculties, mental alertness, energy and wellness to remain intact –  in spite of the rotation of the earth around the sun.

So what makes us think that an aging body is related to how many birthdays we’ve had? Perhaps it’s because of what we see, read and hear about aging from a variety of sources – including drug companies, the media, and people we know. Examples of advanced years being accompanied by decline tend to be more prevalent than stories of mature people being active and useful in later years. Yet from time-to-time we come across inspiring individuals – past and present, who have overcome the limitations traditionally associated with old age. Clara Barton (1821 – 1912) was one such person.

Barton founded the Red Cross in America and she worked tirelessly into her nineties. She not only believed that we can live longer, useful lives, but she did just that herself.  In an interview with Viola Rogers – a journalist for the New York American, Barton explains her viewpoint on not letting the age-clock beat us into submission.

Most troubles are exaggerated by the mental attitude, if not entirely caused by them. … Now it has been my plan in life never to celebrate or make anything of birthday anniversaries, because this only depresses and exaggerates the passing of years. The mind is so constructed that we have become firmly convinced that after a certain length of time we cease to be useful, and when our birthday calendar indicates that we have reached or are nearing that time, we become lax in our work and finally cease to accomplish; not because we feel in reality that we are no longer useful, but because we are supposed by all laws and dictums to have finished the span of life allotted to work. Birthday celebrations after one is ten are without any value, and what is more, I verily believe that they are harmful.”

Barton continues in the interview with this good advice.

“Let your life be counted by the mile-stones of achievement and not by the timepiece of years. We would all be younger if that were so, and would live to be much older than we do at the present time. … To-day I feel as young in my own mind as I did a half century ago, and that is because I have not folded my hands and given up, and have also given up the thought that I was not as useful as I had been in other years.”

There are many other individuals – famous and not so famous, who have thought and done likewise. They’re the folks who’ve refused to say that they used to be able to do this or that, and now they can’t because they’re old. In so doing, they’ve shown us what’s possible – what we can aim for.

For example, can we anticipate being healthy and active into the future? Can we say no to becoming limited in mind or body? Can we continue to learn how our mental state governs the physical. Can we find, as I’ve done, that prayer is useful in aligning our thought with the divine source of life and its perpetual longevity?

Such prayerful religious practice, according to scientists, can actually aid longevity.  That’s why I’m finding encouragement in a favourite Scriptural text“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: …They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be healthy and flourishing.”

Surrendering the notion that time impacts our health, means you and I could look forward to a longer, more productive life.  We might even join the ranks of the 76 female and 2 male documented supercentenarians – individuals who have reached the ripe old age of 110 years or more. And why not? Without the spectre of time looming in our thinking, a long, healthy, active life, might just become the norm.

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I'm a Melbourne based health writer who provides a perspective on the connection between spirituality, thought and health. As a keen blogger, my aim is to provide the public with a diversity of health content including research into the mind-body connection and how thought affects health.

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Comments

  1. Keziah says

    Thank you Beverly for your timely commentary. The first thing that comes to my thought is a time when senior folk were an important part of three generational families and homes – that relationship provided purpose and I believe that purpose is a very important part of self and identity. Purpose renders us useful.
    I was sitting outside at a coffee shop arguing with myself about accepting an invitation to an informal outdoor dinner with families of mixed ages. I was really trying to find a reason to not attend, feeling somewhat separated from the young families. An incident took place within sight and hearing of where I was and instantly I realised that it was me who limited myself. It was my own attitude, my own thought -nobody else. It was such a wake up call- it has been in my thought over these past few days. How often we are the cause of our own discomfit!
    Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures shows us that the ageing process is within our own thought and concept of ourselves. She is so clear about this. I have read and appreciated her writing about this so often, but still allowed myself to be influenced by current popular commentary. Your article is another wake up call.

    • Beverly Goldsmith says

      Good to have your comment. Your experience shows that aging is less about accumulated time and more about our mental attitude. Keeping useful and having a purpose for living are good incentives for living a long and happy life. Here’s to a good life!

  2. Yvonne says

    Another timely and helpful blog Beverly. I,too, am hearing those familiar comments about time passing so quickly and I have been guilty of saying it myself. Mary Baker Eddy says in Science & Health page 246 line 10 to 31 which covers it completely. No more conspiracies for me! Thanks Beverly. Love Yvonne

    • Beverly says

      Thanks Yvonne for your comment. Glad you liked this post. Why shouldn’t we live a long and active life? Scientists say the body is designed to go on forever. This makes time irrelevant. Love to you too Yvonne.

  3. Diane says

    This is a terrific article Beverly! We all slip into the pattern of commenting on time and age and its effects on us …sometimes we do it just in agreeance with others in a group conversation…but we do have the choice to change the direction of these conversations by bringing up one of the many positive points you have made here. Thanks alot…as I have also been guilty of feeling my so called “age” instead of remembering that we are always only in the NOW ;-)
    I will send this onto most of my friends!
    love Diane

    • Beverly Goldsmith says

      Thanks Diane. I am pleased that you liked this blog and will send it on to your friends. It’s good to know that the ideas will be shared with others. It’s pleasing to hear that you will exercise your choice during conversations and “bring up one of the many positive points” I’ve made. Well done.

  4. Julie says

    Thank you Beverly. This is very helpful. I love that we can celebrate achievements, not the passing of years. I shall share this piece with a local aged care facility, because I know the staff and residents there will appreciate your comments. Quite a number of people I know have been uplifted by hearing about Elizabeth Murdoch and her long and unselfish life. We do need to hear more of these stories!

    • Beverly Goldsmith says

      Great to hear from you Julie. Glad the post is helpful. I am delighted to know that you plan to share it with the local aged care facility. Great idea. Let me know how it’s received. Thanks for your interest and active support. Much appreciated.

  5. anne wiggs says

    Thank You Beverly for this blog, enabling us the opportunity to express our ideas, I too hear the comments regarding “the disappearing of time”…and I rejoice in the realization that this is a good thing, as it acknowledges omni-prescence or the reality that the only “time” is Now.
    I like to look at “time”, as Mary Baker Eddy states, “the unfolding of Good”, and as we are the expression of this infinite Good,so day by day, that is all we are experiencing…no “aging” concept here!
    How wonderful that in every hour, instead of feeling older, less useful, we can feel wiser and more alert, in response to the constant, unfolding Good that is occurring in our lives…and rejoice and be glad!

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Anne for leaving a comment. It’s good to know, as you say, that “in every hour, instead of feeling older, less useful, we can feel wiser and more alert.” There’s no reason not to experince good health at every stage of life! Now that’s something to look forward to.

  6. Carol says

    Thank you Beverly for your very timely blog. We are certainly hypnotised by society and the media into feeling we should look and act a certain way at various stages of life. Your blog was inspiring and helpful, and I’m very grateful for it. With love.

    • Beverly says

      Hello Carol, thanks for leaving a comment. So glad you found my post helpful. It’s good to know that we each have the ability to live a productive life free from the restrictions of time. No one has to ‘grow old’. Vitality and usefulness are constant. Love to you too.

  7. Pauline Rita Noorts says

    Many thanks,

    Great to be reminded by this blog of our timelessness as we live in the eternal now, for there is no time in image we are learning through Christian Science.
    Loving thoughts always in all-ways.

    • Beverly says

      Thanks Pauline for your comment. It’s true that we actually live moment-by-moment. We live right here and now – not tomorrow or the next day or year. That’s why each moment is precious and to be enjoyed. Best thoughts to you too.

  8. Dee Jay says

    Thank you for yet another enlightening blog article. Your observations about time and aging are most helpful. I’m particularly grateful for your inclusion of the fascinating remarks made by Clara Barton over 100 years ago. I’ve taken a number of the ideas you’ve shared “on board”. I’ll be endeavoring to put them into practice in my daily life from now on. Fresh perspectives on health topics are always most welcome. Please keep the good news coming!

    • Beverly says

      Thank you for your good comment…and your appreciation for my blogs on health. Do feel free to share my posts with your friends and family. Let’s circulate these ‘fresh perspectives’ widely. Well done for “endeavoring to put them into practice in [your] daily life from now on.” Hopefully others will do likewise. Then they too will live a happy, health-filled life.

  9. Diane F says

    I particularly liked this blog as my son asked me some time ago if I was going to keep driving on our very busy motorway. I was quite surprised. Recently I had an experience of wonderful guidance and protection while driving in the car. I’m sure a lot of people would be interested in your blog, it is a popular subject and there is a lot of information in it that would draw people to read it. I loved the way you wrote your closing summary too.

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Diane for posting a comment. Much appreciated. It’s good to know that ‘time’ does not diminish one’s ability to drive a car safely and well. At any ‘age’ as a driver we can express skill and care on the road. Hope you’ll share this piece with other drivers you know.

  10. Susan says

    Just loved your article on aging. I did not know anything about Clara Barton but seems she had same attitude as Mary Baker Eddy about birthdays and how judging people by their years makes old people seem redundant and young people seem less worthy to be heard. And the thought that people become a certain age and then ‘give up’ more or less – accepting that they are less useful and so on – perfect example of opposite of that of a singer/actress friend of mine. She stands out so much to me because so many older people decide to ‘fade’ somehow, and she has not done so. I have thought that by keeping your own look as you age and by having friends of all different ages and showing respect and interest in a conversation, you are less likely to think of yourself as defined just by your age. I honestly do think age has little to do with who we are. Your article was especially thought provoking and helpful.

    • Beverly says

      Thank you Susan for your comment. Glad you found the article helpful. It’s true that there is no need to ‘fade away’ into agedness. Age is a state of mind and is certainly not defined by the clock. Your friend sounds like a great example of a mature person rejecting ‘age’ and being active and involved in life. May more of us be like her.. and we can.