Last week I talked about how eating lots of super brain foods such as fish, blueberries, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate is essential for providing your mind with the best possible fuel for working at it’s best.
Step two is all about the ‘tude. Or rather, your attitude.
It’s been known for some time that having a poor attitude can have a negative impact on your body and mind.
Stress in any shape or form has a negative impact on our immune system making us more susceptible to illness and disease.
It’s often the case that if you expect something to go wrong, it will!
If you go in to an exam expecting to not to well or fail. Well guess what, it’s likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You see when we have a positive expectation of something; it gives us a bit more of a buzz, some excitement or anticipation. Our mind is psyched up ready to receive something good.
One of the key characteristics I have noticed of those who live well into their 90’s and 100 years or more is that they are full of life. They have an expectation; a positive outlook that life is there to be fully lived. Their actual age has no bearing on their outlook. They are involved, in family life, with people, with activities and new experiences.
One long-term study (NECS) looked at 1500 people in the States over the age of 100 over 15 years and found that they all embodied an optimistic view of ageing. While it is true that genetic factors play a role in determining our life span. This is now known to only account for 20-30% of what determines how long we live.
Environmental and behavioural factors account for a whopping 70 to 80%.
There have been news reports of some of our elders learning how to fly, doing parachute jumps, etc. Their attitude is positive; they look forward to every day and what it may bring. They choose to be active, to be happy, to exercise regularly to remain independent. They experience joy.
Now I realise that we are all different and our life experiences are all different too. I’m not trying to paint a rosy, unrealistic picture. Sure we may endure hardship, suffer illness and disease that we have no control over. But we do still have a choice on how we deal with those curveballs life sends us. It is our resiliency to deal with things that go wrong that stand us in good shape to bounce back and carry on.
I have looked after a number of people who have been diagnosed with life threatening illness and cancer. I have witnessed their journeys and their attitude to their experiences and it has been humbling to see how some chose to turn their lives around. After life saving operations or procedures or even when living with palliative care, seeing them grasp hold of life with both hands, savouring every moment with friends and family, enjoying the simple pleasures of sharing a meal with friends or walking along a beach.
But why wait until a catastrophe or bad experience occurs in our lives, to make the change?
It becomes more obvious that the important things in life are not necessarily the baubles of consumption, the new electronic gadget, the latest model car or toy. If we can shape our attitude to choose to enjoy life, to be tolerant, to notice all that we have rather than focusing on what we don’t have, our stress levels diminish and we experience happiness and contentment. Our mind becomes clearer and our emotions more calm, which leads to us thinking better, remembering more and being able to learn new things.
Meditation is a fabulous way to train the mind to be still. Those who practice mediation regularly on a daily basis say their minds are clearer, they are able to focus much better on tasks needing to get done and get them done more easily.
Yoga is also a great way to relax your mind while exercising your body.
Whether it be meditation, yoga, walking the dog, taking some time out on a regular basis each day for yourself will pay off in bucket loads for your brain and mind’s well being.
You choose your ‘tude.