Mind Over Sports

The Aging Process

Posted on: March 12, 2007

Any discussion of self-image and health would be incomplete without including the aging process. As Leroy Satchel Paige, the great baseball player, once said: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” Paige, for example, didn’t know the year of his birth, yet pitched in professional baseball well into his 60s. When writing about the secrets of the world’s longest-living people, Dan Georgakas wrote, in his book The Methuselah Factor:

People who live longer are likely to be unusually opinionated and strong willed. They like to break their work into doable segments of relatively short duration, allowing for periodic plateaus of accomplishment as well as vantage points from which to judge overall progress. They generally place a premium on quality of performance over speed or appeals to passing fashions.

The preceding passage clearly describes individuals with high self-images. Georgakas also says that “the antithesis of people who live longer lives is the so-called ‘Type A’ personality, characterized by a chronic sense of time urgency brought on by factors such as unrealistic schedules and constant deadlines, often self-imposed.”

As discussed earlier, it is not unusual to find these types of individuals in a business climate. They have such low images of themselves that they believe the only way they can retain clients is to perform Herculean tasks, a belief which usually produces heavy burdens for their support staff. To make matters worse, after fulfilling these tasks by working many extra hours, they refuse to bill the clients for their time.

Self-esteem has a powerful impact on longevity. My own opinion is that high self-esteem and a strong belief in the Almighty make for longevity.
An increase in self-perception brought about by advanced education also has a great influence. Statistics show white American males who were 22 years of age in 1900 and graduated with honors from universities enjoyed a life span seven years longer than average.

Mr. Georgakas also discussed the land of Hunza, located in Northwest Kashmir, an isolated region noted for longevity of its inhabitants. According to Georgakas, it is not unusual for people in Hunza to live well past 100, and in many instances they live to be 130. Some maintain it’s the climate, some their diet. But most importantly, they are not programmed for early death by society’s expectations. And of course, their lifestyle is generally stress-free. They also practice meditation. I highly recommend a program of meditation and suggest you follow the format outlined in Chapter Two. Based on his research, Georgakas recommends a diet that is predominantly or exclusively vegetarian, consisting of as many raw foods and as wide a variety of foods as possible, with freshness and quality of paramount importance. This overall diet should be low in fat, sugar, salt and calories. If followed regularly, it protects the body from a number of degenerative diseases, not the least of which are arterial conditions associated with accumulation of cellular garbage. He also makes the observation that many people find it hard to accept that one of the best ways to prevent premature aging is the simple act of walking. And finally, he points out that biographies of people who live long lives indicate they have strong ideas about health and have much less contact with physicians than most other individuals.

Research also suggests individuals are able to postpone their deaths until they reach a meaningful occasion, such as a religious holiday. In a study of Jewish deaths from natural causes, sociologists found significantly fewer than they expected in the week before the Passover Seder and significantly more than expected during the week after. This so-called “Passover Effect” appears to be caused by people who wish to survive through the holiday. Communal social events can also benefit the course of disease, and can help restore health through attitude.

New studies indicate treatment with human growth hormones can significantly reverse many effects of aging. This opens the possibility of a new role for the mind: stimulating the pituitary gland with a visualization process to produce growth hormones.

In conclusion, consider what Georgakas points out: “It is clear that psychologically depressed people are not likely candidates for long life and that people who set low expectation levels for themselves are programming premature aging.”

We always tend to view issues from the outside-in, rather than inside-out. For example, researchers have studied elderly people owning pets, and have concluded that owning a pet can be beneficial to health and could extend life expectancy. Perhaps we should examine types of people who choose to own a pet and evaluate their feelings of self-worth, because those who have high self-esteem are more empathetic and would be more inclined to become pet owners.

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N. V. I.
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