My car has a feature which I find totally annoying. When I’m close to what the ‘powers-that-be’ determined is my next required maintenance, a little box pops up on the dash-screen announcing “Maintenance required soon!” and stays on until I’ve acceded to its request.

When I called the service center to find out how much maintenance is necessary, the very polite and friendly service rep asked, “Well, it depends on your mileage. How many miles do you have on your car?” I reply, “Oh, I don’t know. I just drive the thing.”

And then it hit me – why don’t we do that with our age? We certainly know we’re past babyhood, technically past adolescence, well into adulthood (we hope), so what good does it do us to obsess over our exact number of ‘miles’ (or kilometers), as in 60, 70, 80 or however years old?

 
 

I’ve decided I’m going with “I just drive the thing,” as in I’ll just happily inhabit my body, love it, treat it well and give it regular oil changes – well, not really, but you know what I mean.

Enjoy the Ride

What a freeing thought! What if we just “drove the thing,” ignoring the numbers on the odometer, and enjoyed the ride? You don’t usually check the odometer before driving all over town to find that special gift for your grandson.

Why would you check your age before buying those skinny jeans? Or learning to kayak? Or taking art classes? Or anything else you feel inspired to experience?

Certainly, you always want to be mindful of your body’s capabilities before taking on something new. But heck, you had to do the same thing when you were 30. You know, that magical day when cold pizza for breakfast just didn’t work for you anymore.

Embrace Your Age

What if the age we embrace is the age we feel like on whatever day? For the most part, I feel 40, except for those few days when I feel 103. Yet, I clearly remember there were days in my 20s when I felt I was pushing 100, so nothing has really changed.

Attitude matters! According to recent Yale University research, how you view aging has tremendous impact on your physical and mental well-being, even on something as apparently inevitable as a genetic predisposition to dementia.

A group of 4,765 individuals was studied with an average age of 72. Every single one of them had a gene variant linked to dementia, yet those who had positive attitudes about aging were fully 50% less likely to develop dementia, as opposed to those who had pessimistic or fearful thoughts about getting older.

Positive attitude towards aging alone is a significant health-and-longevity factor.

One such positive thinker is Leah Chase who considers herself the luckiest woman in the world. At 93, Leah is the queen of Creole cooking, creating her dishes at the famous Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana.

She works from 8:00 am to midnight – as she has for 70 years – sporting her signature red chef’s jacket.

In addition to her many awards as a chef, Leah received the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Loving Cup Award for her service to the community, and the coveted American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana’s Ben Smith Award for her work to promote racial equality.

Clearly, Leah just “drives the thing” with joy, exuberance and a smile that lights up the whole restaurant. What a wonderful example for us all!

So yes, get your regular check-ups, do whatever is needed to keep your body and mind healthy and happy, and go for it! Life is as good as you allow it to be, whatever your age.

What do you do that isn’t seen as “normal” for your age? Have you ever used age as an excuse for not trying something new and then regretted it? Please share your stories below!

Noelle NelsonDr. Noelle Nelson is a psychologist, consultant and speaker. She is passionate about personal growth and happiness. She’s authored over a dozen books including “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” Please visit Noelle’s website.

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