If you take one ounce each of Gold Water and Mercury Water, and drink them facing the sun, you immediately will become a Golden Man.. Your body will be radiant and will grow feathers and wings...you will live a long life without end. - Source: Scripture of the Golden Liquor (Baopu zi shenxian jinzhuo jing, chapter 1. Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 191]
The anti-aging movement is strong these days, and perhaps always has been. In Classical China, Taoist alchemists were driven by the goal of finding ‘immortality’. Taoists utilized a combination of spiritual and physical practices in their quest for immortality - including meditation, breathing techniques, and concocting ‘elixirs of immortality’. In today’s medical world, we see ads for ‘anti-aging’ and ‘regenerative medicine’. The intent is no longer seeking true immortality, but on slowing the aging process - living longer and doing so gracefully.
Most ‘anti-aging’ type clinics today focus on preserving health with diet, supplements, and exercise. They might do functional lab work and then prescribe supplements to keep your body functioning optimally and have other preventative treatments for preserving cell health and integrity. These treatments do indeed have potential to increase longevity.
But, what about those people who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, don’t pay much attention to their diets, maybe don’t even have a strong exercise regimen - and they happily live to 98? What’s going on there? Good genetics? Luck? Or do we actually have the capability of having an effect on our lives with our mental state?
I believe - and, for once, I’m not going to drop in a link to a research article here to prove it, so consider this my belief and opinion - I believe that a key component to living longer and aging gracefully is your mind set, your dominant emotional state. How you manage, control, regulate your thoughts and emotions. I don’t believe that our thoughts and emotions happen to us - we can happen to them. Don’t like your life, change how you think about it.
When we learn in awe of Tibetan Buddhist lamas (monks), who live to 106 and every photo of them shows their deeply embedded laugh lines - how do they do it? They live a lifetime devoted to the control of their thoughts and emotions via religion, meditation and spiritual practices.
So, how do we bring some of that into our lives? Here are some daily practices to regulate your thoughts and emotions and help keep you in a positive mental state:
- Set daily goals for yourself and write them down.
How do you know in what direction you are moving if you don’t steer? How do you stay motivated if you don’t know what you are motivated to do? You need to direct your thoughts and your focus on what matters consciously. When you don’t know what your goals are, you are more likely to react to a situation than you are to respond; you are more likely to make a poor choice for your longevity.
Let your goals inspire you and guide you to your life-long passions. Which brings us to step 2 - determine your life-long passions.
- Have a mission statement for your life.
In order to effectively make daily goals, you need to know in what direction you are headed. This comes from having purpose in your life. Ok, I can’t resist one research article - ‘A Purpose Driven Life May Last Longer’, a study from Harvard Health. Spend time visioning, exploring, figuring out what is your ‘mission’. This should include career goals, life goals, health goals, personal development goals - any and all of these categories. What fulfills you? What brings you joy? What is most important to you? What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? Write it all down. Write yourself a mission statement - a sentence or a few paragraphs that summarizes your purpose. You could choose to focus in one particular direction for a time, or keep it a wider span. Write it down EVERY DAY. Every day, I want you to write your mission statement and I want you to write your daily goals that bring you closer to achieving or maintaining that mission.
Why? - Because - ‘A Purpose Driven Life May Last Longer’...
- Reward yourself
Next to each of your daily goals, I want you to write down one small reward that you will give yourself for completing your goal. Something special to you.
When you complete a larger project - give yourself a larger reward.
This practice will help you to stay focused and excited, stimulates positive neurotransmitters in your brain, and brings joy. Choose rewards that encourage you to maintain good habits.
Need some ideas? Check out this article.
- Express gratitude
Express gratitude to others and to yourself. Take a moment each day to write down things you are grateful for that day. Write it down on the same piece of paper/computer note as your goals and mission. What are you grateful for? What brought you joy today? What lesson did you learn today? How have you grown today? What have you accomplished? Put mental energy into acknowledging these things daily.
- Be kind to others
The final daily habit to embrace is to be kind to others. Intentionally, each day, choose a way to show kindness, compassion, and/or altruism. We all have a way to give to others and doing so actually has long-term benefits for your health. Show love to your pet, let somebody into your lane of traffic, make a charitable donation, help a friend with a project - whatever it is - show kindness and not only will you help someone else, you will benefit yourself.
What do all of these activities have in common? They bring purpose and joy into your life. As Viktor Frankl, Austrian philosopher and Holocaust survivor, taught us: ‘The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.’ More than pleasure or power, we seek purpose and meaning.
Finding purpose in your life, and intentionally cultivating it daily, is the ultimate anti-aging elixir.