Your daily choices and attitude determine your life experience and can help you get healthy again after age 60.
Human beings are masters of unconscious self-sabotage. But the good news is, when you make up your mind about something, you can accomplish almost anything – including the decision to get healthy.
When you realize that your willingness to get healthy acts as the foundation upon which all other good things are built (I mean, when you fully realize it – when you decide that excellent health is your number-one priority, and you mean it), then, from that point forward, reaching your goal requires only action steps and patience.
You can get healthy. In fact, you can become healthier than you have ever been before.
9 Ways to Turn Post-Midlife into Your Best Opportunity
To get healthy after age 60, you will likely need to make some internal shifts first.
Jack Canfield, age 74, is an author and specialist in personal power, and these methods for turning post-midlife into your best opportunity are inspired by his prosperity teachings.
1. Be All In. Decide that You Want to Get Healthy
As you begin to get healthy, put the power of your unconscious mind to work for you – even while you sleep. When your unconscious mind knows that your conscious mind is serious about something, it lends a helping hand.
“This process, done consistently, will activate the unconscious part of your psyche to seek solutions on your behalf.”
2. Twice a Day, Picture Yourself as You Get Healthy
After you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night, close your eyes and allow your breath to go slow and deep.
Visualize yourself in your mind’s eye as the picture of perfect health, then feel how it will feel to get healthy – to be super strong and energized.
This process, done consistently, will activate the unconscious part of your psyche to seek solutions on your behalf.
3. Read Inspirational Materials
To get healthy, you’ll have to become more discerning about anything your mind will be exposed to.
Educate yourself with inspirational media (on my nightstand, I have Finding Ultra by Rich Roll, a memoir about training for the elite Ultraman competition in midlife.)
“External events are symptomatic of internal habits.”
4. Make Friends with Other People Who Like to Get Healthy
People either enhance your energy or drain it. Period. Surround yourself with new friends who have amazing habits of self-care.
5. Think Holistically
Many people, when they feel motivated enough to try to change their health, will generally start by trying to address their external self.
However, rearranging bricks on a fundamentally shaky foundation will never make for a lasting house.
If we don’t look at the core – the internal – the external shifts will likely be fleeting.
This is the reason diets don’t work; this is the reason I advocate permanent lifestyle enhancements.
External events are symptomatic of internal habits. Changing a physical habit without changing the sponsoring thought process is like painting brown leaves green. The tree might look better for a while, but the root disease still exists.
Our culture has become accustomed to believing that there’s one thing that we can do to dramatically improve our health – one popular diet or one new pill, for example.
In reality, the human body is a brilliantly complex system, and often the best way to heal and strengthen it is to recognize ourselves as a whole system (trying to improve on a single part of that system with one dramatic gesture is often not as effective as gradually making small improvements to all its parts).
I abhor “diets.” Instead, I’m a big believer in lifestyle upgrades.
Lifestyle upgrades result from slowly incorporating (and tweaking) little self-care protocols into your routine.
And when you stack enough small good habits, the cumulative effect is to eventually look and feel fantastic – and, even better: to improve your health permanently.
Lasting success is achieved in incremental stages. So, for example, by doing one little thing each week to improve and deepen your sleep,
- and then one little thing each week to release stress
- one little thing to improve your daily nutritional regimen
- one little thing to improve your spine
- one little thing to improve your breathing
..the total effect of these tiny improvements will be greater than the sum of their parts, leading to exponential effects on your well-being.
And notice that those examples I just gave aren’t limited to only your diet or only your exercise regimen.
That’s because a holistic approach to your health means addressing all aspects of you – nutrition and working out, yes, but also money, relationships, and personal development.
“What if your thoughts and beliefs determine the condition of your own body? Here are effective ways to get healthy from the inside out.”
This means facilitating disease prevention and improving your daily quality of life and overall happiness.
And because these changes are so small and gradual, they can be quite simple to implement.
Sometimes, we go through our day on a sort of autopilot. Everybody does that sometimes, and that’s okay. It can take a little practice to begin to see yourself more holistically.
So throughout the rest of today, I invite you to become more aware of how you operate.
Periodically check-in with how you’re breathing, sitting, moving, thinking, feeling, and eating. Not to judge yourself, of course, but to witness objectively all the different parts of your day that may be future opportunities to improve your overall health.
6. Heal Your Food Addictions
How passionately do you desire to get healthy?
The easiest way I know to transition from good health to great health is to upgrade your daily diet.
It’s difficult to overstate how impactful better nutrition will be for your body. It will even improve brain fog.
My favorite book for improving food intake is The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls, MD.
I encourage you to quit sugar – and to make sure it sticks, get yourself a nutritional counselor or an accountability buddy, or attend 12-step O.A. meetings and get a sponsor.
Ask your doctor first, but do what it takes to make this essential shift.
You’ll be glad you did.
7. Deepen Your Existing Connections
The traditional comforting and counted-upon rhythms of community life have gone by the wayside, replaced instead by piecemeal and often-unsatisfying social interactions.
So how do we reclaim, in part if not in whole, what has been eroded?
Are you generally able to give others the gift of your focused attention?
Or do you feel a sense of restlessness creeping over you whenever the discussion shifts away from your concerns and opinions?
It’s a question that few people can answer honestly.
Many of us like to think of ourselves as giving and would confidently state that we can tune in to others.
However, the reality is that, for many of us, tuning in to others is more of an uncomfortable interlude than a chance actually to connect.
Many people become bored, frustrated, or anxious if a conversation or transaction goes too long without being about them. Some people can last two hours, while others struggle to stay present for two minutes.
If you think this is an exaggeration, the next time you are in a public setting, tune into the conversations going on around you:
- do you notice people listening to each other with true interest and a genuine desire to understand?
- or do you witness interruptions and interjections that shift and break the flow of what is trying to be said?
The growing cultural inability or lack of interest in tuning-in to others contributes to our feelings of disconnection and discontentment.
Many of us are burdened with the mounting pressures of everyday life. We go through the day tending to the insistent details required by our jobs, families, homes, pets, health, education, and so on.
When we are asked to slow down and attend to the concerns of people in our lives, we can find it difficult to be present – difficult to disconnect from the disjointed energy that has carried us through the day.
We might also notice ourselves struggling to truly listen before taking our turn to share our burdens and joys.
If what we long for is to be seen and heard, we must first learn to see and hear others.
This is another one of those paradoxes of life. What we want to receive from others we must first cultivate in ourselves.
Have you ever known someone who longed to have more genuine and fulfilling friendships? This person might even complain that those people they do allow into their lives inevitably just disappoint them and leave them feeling disillusioned.
When I hear these unhappy dynamics being shared, I ponder: “What relationship skills are this person bringing to the table?”
In truth, what seems to happen is that the very things we complain about so vehemently in others are often qualities we are denying in ourselves.
One of the most important aspects of becoming healthier in your relationships is the ability to bear witness and to be witnessed by those we are closest to.
If this fundamental quality is missing, it is hard to imagine the relationship deepening or becoming a haven in our most challenging moments.
At our core, we are social animals.
The quality and thoughtfulness with which we communicate and foster the communication of others (despite the constantly changing landscape of our culture) will likely always be the currency of our emotional lives.
The next time you are having a conversation (with someone you’ve known for a long time or someone you just met), tune in to your internal witness and – without judgment – consider the quality of your attention:
- does your mind wander while the other person speaks?
- are you interested in what is being said?
- are you trying to hold an open mind, or are you waiting for a pause so that you can give advice or change the topic to one that is of more interest to you?
Dean Ornish reminds us that people must “tell their stories – without fear of being judged, abandoned, or criticized.”
He observes that “telling stories can be healing. We all have access to greater wisdom, and we may not even know it until we speak out loud.”
Think about that for a moment in the context of what we have just considered:
- if one of our most powerful means of tapping into our wisdom is to say it out loud, to have it heard by our intimates, what happens when this interpersonal sounding board is dulled by inattention and distraction?
- who encourages and celebrates our moments of clarity and insight with us?
- without this interpersonal compass, does our assurance of our truth become compromised?
It is not just the person being heard who benefits.
Ornish pointed out that listening to the stories of others can also be healing: “A deep trust of life often emerges when you listen to other people’s stories. You realize you’re not alone; you’re traveling in wonderful company.”
When you develop your ability to give quality attention to others, you may gradually notice that the people in your life begin shifting in how they respond to you. You may nurture new relationships in which there is a healthier exchange of interpersonal energy.
Generally, extroverts need to deepen their existing relationships, while introverts often need to work harder to expand their current network.
8. Realize that Your Life is Already Brilliant
Gratitude is a state of mind that many of us have difficulty generating and sustaining in our lives.
Why is this?
Perhaps because we often feel we are lacking – that we do not have all we need to generate a true and lasting sense of happiness.
When asked to determine the root of our discontentment, we typically look to external sources. Our jobs are unfulfilling; the magic has left our relationships, or we don’t make enough money to buy the clothes we want, go on vacations we need to de-stress, or get those new cars or homes which will increase our sense of well-being.
If we look at the people in our lives (and ourselves), most (if not all) of them likely see life as lacking in some way and therefore invest a great deal of time and energy trying to make up for that perceived deficit. If we work more, consume more, do more, and amass more, we can right the view of the inequity in our lives.
Unfortunately, no measurable amount of external “success” will balance the scales to our satisfaction.
Some rare people own mansions in sought-after neighborhoods and luxury sports cars; they date beautiful people half their age – all the while knowing they never have to fear a lack of money. But many such people are miserable.
Not only are they miserable, but they’re angry about it.
They feel duped, like they’ve through our cultural checklist of how to attain happiness, not missing one item, and yet are left feeling empty and betrayed.
Even those who “have it all” can still hold a deep feeling of dissatisfaction.
Many of us will never have the financial resources to fulfill our every whim and desire, so we can continue to fuel the delusion that gaining more resources holds the key to our bliss.
We will likely never live this illusion to its conclusion and realize firsthand that acquiring more and better stuff is not how lasting happiness is cultivated.
Do not miss the opportunities for inner investment.
My point is not to vilify the large house, the sports car, or even the choice of companionship. I intend to highlight that if how you cultivate happiness rests outside of yourself, you are likely to feel habitually disappointed with the overall course of your life.
Our discontent stems from the model we buy into – that is, the “if…then model.” If we achieve X, then we will be happy.
It helps to see the humor in situations, to develop tolerance and even gratitude for those people or situations that disturb the surface of our calm.
We do better when we remember that our perceptions are limited, especially when juxtaposed with the wisdom held within life’s design.
We can be grateful for all the forms grace can take in this life.
Gratitude is the ultimate compass. Check in with yourself to determine what you feel most grateful for. That gratitude can help point you strongly in the right direction.
9. Exercise Daily to Experience the Sensation of Being Fully Alive
Not all exercise days are heavy workout days. But even on light or off days – when you’re recovering from yesterday’s intense workout – you can still go for a walk.
Strangely, technological improvements are making our lifestyles more sedentary than ever before. Sitting is the new smoking.
Get your doctor’s clearance to exercise, then try to move your body safely and often.
Because rehabilitation is a part of most people’s fitness routines after the age of 60, you might benefit by making gentle yoga or mobility drills a more significant portion of your workout than you did when you were younger.
By exercising, you are not trying to deny the impermanence of life. The purpose of exercising is not as much to extend your lifespan as it is to extend your healthspan.
I encourage you to remember that waiting to get healthy is a fool’s gamble.
Become Healthier by Training Your Mind First
We want to get healthy again, but it sometimes seems we’re being sabotaged at every turn.
We plan for better habits, yet roadblocks to our increased success bolt-up – though minutes before we saw only open highway ahead.
We wait, tapping our fingers and muttering under our breath – blaming the world for yet another gridlock situation.
- when will everything finally go my way?
- when will I finally get myself into great shape?
- when will I have the energy again, like I did when I was younger?
We don’t want to see the truth, that we placed these blocks on the road ourselves.
Your External is a Manifestation of Your Internal
Ultimately, one must figure out what he or she genuinely believes and recognize the connection between those beliefs and what the world presents.
Carl Jung called this process individuation.
Abraham Maslow called it self-actualization.
The idea is to notice that you’re sleepwalking to the highway ahead of time and erecting roadblocks, and then – after you’ve had that awareness – find out why you’re doing it.
You’d think that as a wellness professional, the important thing I could do for others is to coach their workouts. But perhaps the most helpful thing I do for others is to help them prepare their minds – and organize their daily lifestyles – so that health improvement is inevitable.
Additional Sources for How to Get Healthy After Age 60:
Jack Canfield on How to Live Well – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Canfield
On Carl Jung – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jung