I feel like one of the luckiest men alive.
I knew and spent time with my grandparents as an adult and had all four for many years into adulthood. Three out of four lived into their mid-90s, which is a strong indicator of good genes.
I’m also blessed to have both of my parents, and they remain active, mentally alert, and very engaged. In fact, my dad flew out to the Plein Air Convention by himself and hung out with us for a couple of days before he went on a photo expedition. He wanted to see what his kid does for a living and be supportive. I’ve got a great dad and mom who support me.
Of course I tell my triplets, age 15, that I fully intend to be in their lives for many decades to come because I want to know their great-grandchildren…
Which brings me to something I spoke about on stage at the Plein Air Convention. It’s about aging.
Time Is Running Out…
I often tell the story of a relative who in his late 50s started talking about how he was “getting old” and needed to start the process of planning, because he would not be around long.
Perhaps he was half-joking, but I remember telling my wife, “He’s right. If he keeps talking about getting old, he won’t last long.”
As it turned out, he passed away soon after.
You see, our subconscious mind has triggers; they trigger our bodies to react to what we’re telling the brain. Our body is getting one of two signals: the signal to live or the signal to die.
The body takes those signals and produces what it needs to live, or to begin the process of deterioration. There are “signals” that impact life … our thinking, our level of exercise, our diets, our social lives, and our mental engagement.
I don’t even like to utter or type the words “I’m getting old” because I’m very protective about not putting this thought into my head to trigger negative action in my subconscious mind. If I do, it’s only as an example, and then I make a conscious effort to tell myself, “That’s unlike me to think that way.”
Though you and I don’t know when our end will come, I think it’s important to manage our thoughts and feed the right triggers, so that no matter our chronological age, we don’t trigger ourselves into a dying mode.
You Have to Train Your Brain
Instead of saying those words when I have a cranky back or a pain, I don’t utter anything age-related. Instead, I simply tell myself, “I need to fix the problem.” I then work very hard at not accepting physical limitations. After all, they may be age-related, but are usually caused by the lack of something else, usually proper diet or proper exercise.
Two years ago I popped a disc in my back when doing a stretch at the gym. It was painful, and it slowed me down. I refused surgery and kept going to professionals until I found some who told me there were other ways to address the issue. As a result, I went through a lot of chiropractic, rolfing, acupuncture, a little yoga, and even some new forms of deep tissue work, along with stretches and exercises to build scar tissue.
The problem is 100 percent solved, the disc is back in place, and the back is stable. Had I accepted the diagnosis of surgery first, or one doctor telling me, “It’s just part of getting old, you’ll need to learn to live with it,” I would not be where I am today.
There I go, talking about my health…
Have you noticed that often this is the topic when older people gather? My dad said, “I need to find younger friends, because the older ones only want to talk about their health.”
You Become What You Think About
What you talk about, what you spend your time on, is what feeds your mind. I try to avoid talking about my health, and I try to change the subject when friends start sharing their aches.
Frequently I scold people for using “getting old” kinds of phrases. The other day I scolded a nationally known speaker who teaches positive thinking. He did not even realize he was doing it.
In Art Marketing Boot Camp at the recent Plein Air Convention, I did a segment on building “the ultimate retirement” business as an artist because I hear from so many people who want to ramp up their art careers fast after they retire from their lifelong career. Many ask if there is time.
My answer is that you should assume you have unlimited amounts of time. The key is being engaged mentally, socially, and physically. Don’t place limits on yourself about how much time you have left. Assume you have a lot, because you can hold a paintbrush till your last breath.
Five Will Get You Fifty
Five years ago I read an article that said if you can live just 10 more years, there is a strong chance you could live 50 more years. The reality is that technology is rapidly changing. In fact, some billionaires are working on 3D-printing human tissue into new hearts and say they will eventually be able to 3D-print a full human body with perfect health.
They also say they have transferred a brain from one mouse to another, so a mouse who has learned a maze can have that information moved to the other mouse — without surgery. What they are saying is, if they can combine brain-transfer tech with 3D body printing, you could, in theory, live as long as you want to. Perhaps you’ll find it controversial, but I think it just might help me know my great-great-great-grandchildren and play volleyball with them.
I’m Not Insensitive
Look, I know there are true and real issues, like illness and injuries, that many of you face. I was approached by a woman at the convention who was living through horrific chemo treatments and was not yet out of the woods. I don’t in any way mean to make light of the situations you or your family or friends may be going through.
But I also don’t entirely trust traditional MDs. I’ve read about a lot of new technology in use today for various issues that my own doctor is not even aware of. Though there is a lot of untrue stuff selling hope on the Internet, there is also a chance to research and find legit solutions. New things take time to be adopted, and many MDs want to be cautious and make sure the science supports it.
People ask me where my energy comes from, because I tend to walk fast, get up early and stay up late, and manage to crush through a lot of work and some very long convention or painting event days at things like my Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks or Fall Color Week or my Russian Art Tour.
Frankly, I used to fall asleep in my chair after dinner every night and I lacked energy. Switching to a vegan diet, eliminating all grains from my life, and juicing greens every morning have a lot to do with my energy. I also see a nutritionist every year to adjust my supplements. Oh, I still see my MD, and I make sure I get my key vitals and heart checked frequently. Plus I’m at the gym an hour every weekday, doing weights and cardio. But I don’t want you to think for a second that I’m pushing this on you. Everyone has to find what works for them.
So Much to Do, So Little Time
I may be proven wrong in all of this, but at least I’m fooling myself into thinking I can play a role in extending my life. After all, there is much to be done, and I’ll need a lot of time to do everything I want to do.
Many of you reading this are of an age where you need to reconsider your thought patterns and the behavior that supports your energy level and health. Chances are a lot of things your MD says cannot be reversed can be reversed.
Others are a long way from it, but it’s best to understand it now so that you’ll be ready when you do face it.
Hello … You’re Dead
I’m big on watching what I put into my mind. My friend Kaye and I were on the phone one day and she was telling me about caring for a friend of ours who is dying of cancer. She said, “I’m not sure how much longer I can take this. I work a full day in my company and then I work hours on his care. This is killing me. “
I stopped her and said, “Kaye, for your own benefit, please don’t use the words, ‘This is killing me.’ Your subconscious will pick up on that.’
She then scolded me for telling her about this positive-thinking BS.
Kaye died the next day.
Do not feed your mind things that trigger dying. Feed your mind to trigger life … long, healthy life.
It may sound like positive-thinking BS, but there is a lot of recent evidence to support it.
Most importantly, ask yourself what you believe and what you’re telling yourself and if it’s supporting what you need to get done before your time comes.
A friend of mine asks himself every year, “What am I doing that is not supporting my ability to live a strong, healthy, long life?” Whatever he comes up with, he quits.
He quit smoking.
He quit eating meat.
He quit eating dairy.
He quit sitting around and started taking walks.
He quit gluten.
Forgive me if I’m preaching. I only want the best for you.
Your mission for this week?
- Maybe ask yourself what you’re doing that does not support your longevity.
- Catch yourself. Every time you make an OPR (Old Person’s Reference), set off a mental buzzer and say, “That’s unlike me to think that.” And please stop uttering words like, “I’m getting old,” or “I’m old.” Old is a relative term, and with the new technology today, you might not even be halfway there.
- Be careful about other mind-altering words, like, “I can’t take this anymore. This is killing me.”
Have a great week. Thanks for sharing coffee with me this morning.