“What we believe on the inside manifests on the outside.”
I remember making that rather bold statement in my twenties; it came from my experience as a dedicated people watcher. I determined that by age 50 our faces told the story of our lives and beliefs. Mouths in particular revealed a lot about the ‘wearer’… upturned ones indicated an open, trusting, welcoming approach to life, the straight ones said I am firm and rigid and believe in my way, the pursed or tight ones said I am closed, I can’t trust you or life and the ones that pulled into a thin downturn spoke of diminished life force and being without hope. I felt I could see inside a person just by glancing at their face. Indeed we do ‘wear’ ourselves.
Good thing about beliefs is that they are changeable and can grow and evolve as we do.
If you don’t think beliefs play a huge role in overall health and yumminess you will after reading about these 3 studies, (all spearheaded by women).
The famous Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement was conducted by gerontologist and epidemiologist Becca Levy, Ph.D. She found that people with positive perceptions about aging, live on average, 7 ½ years longer than people who don’t hold that belief. In fact people’s perceptions of aging had more of an effect, positive or negative, on health longevity than did having low cholesterol or blood pressure (which increase longevity by 4 years) or a low body mass index (BMI). Perceptions even had more of an effect than not smoking (which adds 3 years to your life).
In other words, the belief in the positive aspects of aging strongly affects biology and ultimately our very survival.
In Harvard Professor Ellen Langer’s classic book – Mindfulness, she recounts conducting a 2 week study with men in their 70’s and 80’s. In it she had one group live as though they were in their prime-watching TV shows, reading magazines, books, newspapers, listening to music etc… from that era. A second group lived away from their daily routine but without any reminders of life in their youth. Before the study began all participants underwent tests for hearing, blood pressure, vision, and pulmonary function. They also had their pictures taken. After 2 weeks the tests were repeated. The men who had lived as if in the era of their prime looked, on average, 10 years younger! Their test results also improved dramatically. They had a greater sense of wellbeing. The control group showed no changes.
The well known University of Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Nuns, began in 1986 and continues today. It looked at women who entered the cloistered life in their early 20’s with the aim of determining what distinguished women who developed Alzheimer’s in their 80’s from those who maintained healthy brain function. Each nun was asked to write an autobiographical essay upon entering the convent. Only 10% of those whose essays were rich with linguistic flourishes, energetic descriptions and complex language went on to develop Alzheimer’s, whereas 80% of those who wrote plain essays, did develop the disease. Results of this study suggest that being vivacious, fully engaged in our experiences and enjoying our creativity protects brain health.
There was some unexpected news out of the study, autopsies showed that the nuns who relished life and showed no signs of dementia had just as many plaques in their brains as the less vivacious nuns whose dementia was apparent before they died.
This is proof that a healthy mind and spirit can exist in a body that is less than perfect and that our thoughts and beliefs are the single most important indicator of our state of health.
If we want to embody YUMMY AGING our beliefs and how we live life are integral to a successful practice!
5 beliefs to create a Yummy mind set (update and add to this list regularly)
- I trust life — I relinquish control. I can allow everything and everybody to be just as they are. This frees me to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
- I believe anything is possible. I know this from experience – anybody can create anything. I can spread my wings and fly.
- I am ME — I take off all masks and accept and embrace the real me.
- I am fearless. I see that fear is an illusion it only exists as I create it in my mind.
- I live in the moment — I release the past it is not the direction I’m going!
Pay attention to beliefs. If you aren’t already, you’ll be wearing them very soon. Check fit!