By DR. VICTOR S. SIERPINA
One of my favorite positive thinkers was Norman Vincent Peale. He said something about aging that I have shared with patients over the years.
It was something like this: “Age by itself does not necessarily bring premature disease and disability, but it is the belief that age brings these conditions that hastens their arrival.” Peale also said: “Live your life and forget your age.”
There are many negative myths about aging, and then there is also the reality that some people age better than others. While certain biological changes are inevitable, managing them with grace, humor and generosity of spirit makes the journey better for us and for those around us.
I think of so many of my dear patients over the years who have not only endured but thrived well beyond the biblical three score and 10. One just died in Kerrville at 102 after a life well-lived, surrounded by her adoring family.
Ralph, an old rancher I cared for in Colorado, got his cardiac bypass at 93 despite my recommendations not to do so. He lived well another three years, surprising us all.
Attitude is indeed a major contributor to a healthy, happy, and long life. Here are some great quotes that may shape your attitudes on aging:
“Let me advise thee not to talk of thyself as being old. There is something in Mind Cure, after all, and if thee continually talks of thyself as being old, thee may perhaps bring on some of the infirmities of age. At least I would not risk it if I were thee.” (Hannah Whitall Smith)
“There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.” (proverb)
“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” (Sir Francis Bacon)
“The best way to judge a life is to ask yourself, ‘Did I make the best use of the time I had?’” (Arthur Ashe)
“I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.” (Will Rogers)
“It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true. As one grows older one climbs with surprising strides.” (George Sand)
“The heyday of woman’s life is the shady side of fifty.” (Elizabeth Cady Stanton)
“It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.” (Adlai Stevenson)
“Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. (Jack Benny)
“As a white candle / In a holy place, / So is the beauty / Of an aged face.” (Joseph Campbell)
May you live long and live well.
Dr. Victor S. Sierpina is the WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at UTMB.