Editors Note: While this article was originally written for a book entitled Menopause Made Easy, the article applies to men as well. You can replace the word "women" with the word "men" or "people" as you read.
The ways in which we currently age have been programmed into us, and we have accepted this idea as a reality. As a society, with some exceptions, we have come to believe that we all will get old, sick, senile, frail, and die -- in that order. This does not have to be the truth for us any longer.
As we refuse to accept these old fears and beliefs, this can become a time for us to begin to reverse the negative parts of the aging process. The current crop of baby boomers is not going to sit back and age like their parents did. We will live longer, and if we take charge of our health, we will live exciting, productive lives.
The Second Half of Our Lives
I believe that the second half of our lives can be even more wonderful than the first half -- we can definitely make these years exciting ones. If we want to age successfully, then we must make a conscious choice to do so. Healthy aging is learning how to keep the life force strong within us. We can do this with self-love, and with good food and exercise.
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Staying healthy into our later years is an act of loving ourselves. We can make deliberate choices to care for who we are. We can study books on nutrition in order to learn to fuel our bodies with the most nutritious foods possible. I don't like to talk about diet; rather, I choose to talk about food choices.
We can explore some form of exercise to keep our bones strong and our bodies flexible. We can read books, or listen to tapes, or take classes that teach us how to use our minds. We can learn how to think in ways that support a peaceful, loving, healthy life.
Whenever I see older women who are frail, ill, and incapacitated, I know I am often looking at a lifetime of inadequate nutrition, lack of exercise, and an accumulation of years of negative thoughts and beliefs. So many of the problems we face in our later years come from the lifestyle choices we made when we were younger.
We need to learn how to take care of our magnificent bodies so that we can sail into our older years in perfect physical shape. I had a physical recently, and the doctor told me I was in "amazingly good physical condition for someone my age". It disturbed me that he expected a woman of 72 to be in poor health.
Living a Healthful Life
Fast food, and processed packaged foods do not support life. No matter how pretty and mouth-watering the picture on the package, there is no life in these foods. Our bodies need fresh, living foods, such as fresh fruits, salads, vegetables, grains; and small amounts of meats, poultry, and fish. These are the foods that will sustain our bodies well into old age.
You may not want to hear this, but Soul Food is also "heart attack food". It may please the tastebuds, but eaten consistently over a lifetime, it contributes to all sorts of health problems.
As teenagers, we can get away with a lot of poor food choices. We may not feel our best, but at least we're not sick. However, when we reach our mid-40s, our past food history begins to catch up with us. This is when so many women find that their bodies are not working well, and the diseases start to manifest.
Don't listen to the dairy or meat industries. They don't care about your health; they're only interested in profits. Eating lots of red meat and dairy products are not good for women's bodies. Caffeine and sugar are two other culprits that contribute to many of the problems that women face with their health.
How Do I Want To Age?
Ask yourself, "How do I want to age?" Observe women who are aging miserably, and notice those who are aging magnificently. What do these two groups do differently? Are you willing to do what it takes to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled in your later years?
Almost all the research done on older people has been by the pharmaceutical industry on disease and what is "wrong" with us and what drugs we require. There is a need to do in-depth studies on older women who are healthy, happy, fulfilled, and enjoying their lives. The more we study what is "right" with older women, the more we will know how we can all accomplish healthy living.
How to Accept and Love Our Bodies
It is crucial to our well-being to constantly love and appreciate ourselves. Loving our bodies is important at any stage of our lives, but it is absolutely vital as we grow older.
Anger is not healing. If we put anger into any part of our bodies, especially a part that is sick, it only delays the healing process. If there is some part of your body that you are not happy with, then take a month or so and put love into that area on a daily basis. Tell your body that you love it: "I love you, body! I really, really love you."
What if part of your body is sagging or wrinkled? This part has been with you for a lifetime, and it is doing the best it can with the health choices you have made. Hating your body will not make it young and beautiful. Love your body, and it will love you back. Your hips and breasts and your face and your skin with be with you for the rest of your life.
Take care of your body, and love every bit of it -- from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes -- and all the organs in between. When you love yourself, others love you, too, and you will be irresistibly attractive all your life.
Our Thoughts Contribute to Our Health or to Our Diseases
I am a great believer in the philosophy that our thoughts and our words shape our experiences. So we can quite unknowingly, just by thinking, contribute to our health or to our diseases. Dr. Candace Pert discovered "neuropeptides". These are the chemical messengers in our brain that travel to every part of our body, touching every cell and depositing a bit of that chemical in it. They do this each time we think a thought or speak a word.
If our thoughts are fearful, angry, or in any way negative, then the chemicals these messengers deposit "depress" our immune systems. If our thoughts are loving, optimistic, and positive, then the different chemicals these messengers, or neuropeptides, deposit will "enhance" our immune systems.
So, moment by moment, we are consciously or unconsciously choosing healthy thoughts or unhealthy thoughts. Poisonous thoughts poison our bodies. We cannot allow ourselves to indulge in negative thinking. It is making us sick and killing us.
In addition to making sound choices for ourselves nutritionally and medically, we need to take charge of our thinking. Negative thinking produces negative experiences. If we want to change our lives for the better, we must learn to think thoughts that support us and help improve the quality of our lives. When we love and appreciate who we are, we naturally take better care of ourselves.
This article by Louise L. Hay is taken from a chapter called Healthy Aging, in the book, Menopause Made Easy. Published by Hay House Inc. ©1999. www.hayhouse.com.
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About the Author
LOUISE L. HAY is a metaphysical lecturer and teacher and the best selling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life and Empowering Women. Her works have been translated into 26 different languages in 35 countries throughout the world. Louise is the founder and chairman of Hay House, Inc., a publishing company that disseminates books, audios, and videos that contribute to the healing of the planet.