Getting Old vs. Growing Old

We’re all getting older. No matter who you are, where you live, what you believe in, it’s happening whether you like it or not. You’re already older now than you were when you started this article. Since we can’t stop the hands of time, what we can do something about is how we age. We’re all going to get old, but not all of us will grow old. Here lies the difference.

One thing is true – we all have a picture in our head, an idealized version of ourselves, who we would like to become, how we would like to be, in the near and/or distant future. What steps do you need to take right now to become that version of you? We need to understand the importance of how our current actions and thoughts in our present reality shape the outcome of our future.

“You age like wine”

The way in which wine ages is something worth talking about. Most wines don’t actually get better with age, and while some aging is necessary for any wine, most will stop getting better after a few months or years. The rare, expensive wines are made with the best grapes, and have to be preserved in perfect, carefully-controlled conditions over longer periods of time. Even then, some will not turn out the best, and losses will occur. Different factors come into play such as the environment (temperature and humidity), evaporation, and other uncontrollable issues that may arise. As wine ages, the whole molecular structure changes over time, nothing is ever static. The flavor may change, with primary notes becoming less noticeable while other flavors develop that were previously hidden. The same bottle you opened today will be a completely different wine if opened a year from now. Regardless, each wine has it’s different “peak” age, until it slowly starts to decline.

We have more in common with wine than we previously may have thought. Most of us will not get better with age either. We all peak at some point; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Different environments (inner and outer) will influence how we age, when we peak, and how we taste to other’s senses. A negative outer environment may be able to be balanced out by careful attention on maintaining positive inner activity. If the outside and inside conditions are both bad, then you’re going to taste bad, and many people won’t want to be around you, unless they have bad taste buds themselves, or are just that thirsty for attention and validation that they’ll take what they can get. Well balanced usually means we will last longer. Of course, there are uncontrollable issues that may take a few years from our lifespans, and losses will occur, just like with our expensive batch of wine. Nothing is ever static inside of our bodies either. We are constantly changing, down to the sub-atomic particles. One theory states that we literally have a new physical body every seven years. What we do, think, and experience on a day-to-day basis will directly influence which chemical processes dominate inside of us, which, over time, will dictate how we age.

You Are What You Eat

Our body is a beautifully designed, intricate and complex system filled with energy and constant communication, most of which isn’t even in our control. Our body and our mind are always in communication with one another.

Our brain is constantly taking in new information from our external (and internal) environments through our five sensory outlets (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell) along with information from within our mind. This information is then recognized and processed by the brain. How it’s processed depends on the labeling and reactive patterns we’ve stored over time. Depending on what we’ve learned and stored as a reaction over time for this particular type of event, our brain will send a message to the body which will produce a feeling. This feeling, whether it be “good” or “bad”, repeated and validated for long enough periods, may eventually become a mood. This mood, if allowed to continue and/or repeat enough, will eventually become part of your personality. This, in a nutshell, is how you have become you over time.

Our body also heavily influences our brain and mind (which are two separate things). Emotions produced by your mental activity greatly affect your health. Constant anger can cause high blood pressure. Stress may lead to heart disease. Depression will affect your energy levels, and may even lead to chronic pain and obesity. Constant feelings of anxiety or grief may lead to asthma. Even your body language influences your thinking. The gut-brain link is also a well-studied fact, showing that the health of your gut microbiome directly affects functioning of your autonomic nervous system.

You are what you eat, literally. What we digest mentally and physically become a part of who we are.

Opt for Growth

We are, to a degree, an accumulation of our past. The action chosen today will be a building block in the creation of the future you. If we aren’t growing and learning, we’re either stagnant, or dying. We’re either growing old, or just getting old.

Wisdom is gained from a combination of experience, observation, and knowledge. The more time you’ve had on this earth, the more time you’ve had to accumulate wisdom and knowledge through the years. Elderly people were once praised and respected for their knowledge and wisdom. In today’s society, where youthfulness is praised, promoted, advertised, and sold, the elderly are looked at in a less respectable light; age is made fun of. Maybe people nowadays are living less virtuous lives, so when old age hits, and you’ve accumulated little to no growth and wisdom from a lifetime of ignorance and escapism, there may not be much else to respect other than the fact that you’re old. As Charles Dickens famously quoted, “there is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.” The people able to provide the positive energy of wisdom, are the people that opted for growth… growth of the mind, and growth of the heart.

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