The Myth of Getting ‘Old’

Having spent the last 15 years observing what makes one 80 year old ‘old’ and another ‘young’ and indeed witnessing the transformation of some ‘old’ ones into ‘young’ ones, I’ve been pretty humbled.  I never cease to be amazed by human potential. Through a gradual process of mental reflection, dietary and lifestyle changes and therapy, some have been able to turn their circumstances around by realising they had more control over how they felt than they realised and that they had succumbed to the popular myth about age.

Many of our patients are content merely with the removal of pain from their arthritic joints. Some, however, realise that they have become what they have through their choices and actions. They then make different choices and experience different outcomes as a result.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to old people. These same processes occur in younger age. At the time of writing, I’m 43 and setting myself physical and mental goals that my contemporaries have clearly convinced themselves they can’t achieve. Of course, they can achieve them!They just need to engage in the lifestyle that supports their achievement. They’ve succumbed, like the majority, to societal norms and assumptions that say “you’re getting old now and so you’re going to be weaker, have poorer health and generally start going downhill”

Of course, age does play a significant role in our wellbeing. The older we get, the more time we have had to practice the habits that have determined our health in the first place. In turning things round, it might be a slower process because of this. You’ve been letting yourself go over a longer period of time. However, change you certainly can!

Our minds are far stronger than most of us are willing to admit. One just needs to watch a few episodes of Derren Brown to get an idea of this. Countless studies on the placebo affect also provide fascinating food for thought. Even ignoring the obvious dietary, exercise and lifestyle choices that are proven to affect our health, our minds can convince us into high or low levels of physical and mental performance or health states. So, its not enough to just regulate our diet, and lifestyle. We have to train our minds too. Good health is not a matter of luck, its crafted! I’m  reminded of what Gary Player is noted for having said: “It’s funny, the more I practice the luckier I seem to get”.

And that’s not even considering the amazing folk with significant, life-limiting circumstances who still remain positive.  Like Chris Moon, 49 at the time of writing, the ultra runner who had one leg and one arm blown off by a land mine, then ran the London marathon within a year of the incident!!! Check him out at:

Geneticists estimate that our genes are responsible for about 15% of our health outcomes. The other 85% is down to our lifestyle. In other words, the choices we make in life have the largest effect on our health, by far.

So, check out your self-limiting beliefs, engage in some positive thinking training, and start releasing your latent potential now. Commit to a programme of regular exercise, whether it includes Tai Chi, running, squash or whatever. And guess what, once you’ve got over that initial inertia that inevitably exists when you’ve been inactive for so long, its really enjoyable and feels great! Go get some…you’re more than you think you are!

6 Replies to “The Myth of Getting ‘Old’”

  1. Sean, interesting…I feel young at 72 and a half, but I have lots of things wrong with me and cannot exercise because of bad knees. Perhaps I ought to come and see you 😉

  2. Perhaps! Although its an awful long way to come! 😉 Maybe you have a local acupuncturist over there? Get your knees fixed sooner rather than later and you’ll be feeling even younger before you can say “Jack Robinson”

    BTW, I can show you a 1001 exercises you can do which will not affect your knees at all. Options only limited by the confines of our creativity 🙂

  3. Sean, I agree – “mindset” is just as important as “lifestyle quality” as you get older. At 63 I feel youg, reasonably fit and happy and do everything I can to try and keep looking as “young” as I can (not botox/surgery) which becomes increasingly more difficult as the years race by! Diet, exercise, balancing work and leisure are important, but so is “not giving in to age” as well. In my experience some age-related health probs can be helped greatly, if not cured, by natural/alternative remedies. Certainly being overweight is a contributing cause to many illnesses. I know people in their 80’s and even 90’s – many of them with health probs, but those with a “young” mindset cope better and enjoy life far more than those who have given in to age with a quiet acceptance. I know disease and illness can be debilitating and can prevent you from doing a lot of the things you want to do, but you’ve got to keep fighting and try to find ways round the probs if at all possible.

    Sean, as a past patient of yours, I firmly believe that a health MOT with acupuncture every few months or so, could help many of the probs associated with getting older and possibly prevent some. Us “oldies” also need a sort of “lifestyle guru” (how about it?) who could advise on diet, exercise, self-help etc. We probably need it more than the youngsters! How about a blog/personal email/booklets/short courses with some acupuncture treatments included done on an individual basis? I think many of us would be prepared to pay for this. I certainly would!

    Sean, we need your guidance!!!
    Best Wishes

    PS I haven’t had acupunture for some years now, but I am still reaping the benefits! I klnow this isn’t an “age-related” problem but just an example of how beneficial acupuncture is – I used to have severe hayfever every year. I had acupunture for it (thank you Sean) over 5 years ago which cured me! This year, in spite of pollen counts being high, I haven’t had to take a tablet or use inhalers and have only used my eye drops 3 times! It’s truly amazing and fantastic to enjoy being outside a lot of the time. Something I couldn’t do before!

    My advice to anyone reading this who is interested in perhaps having acupuncture – if you can’t see Sean try and find someone in your area who has had more than just a short, basic training course and perhaps is qualified in other areas of alternative medicine as well. Sean studied in China and Japan. His lifestyle advice/philosophy is invaluable!

  4. Well said, Sean. I wholeheartedly support this philosophy and within my practice find it much more helpful to view age as an accumulation of beliefs, habits and experiences (all of which can be worked with), rather than an inevitable decline.

  5. Sean.

    As ever an inspirational piece

    Age is not a barrier.

    I self challenge, refuse to accept acceptance of decline and see no reason why i cant be as fit and healthy in 20 years time as i am now.

    Mental attitude, lifestyle and balance, nutrician, using and respecting your body are key.

    Will let you know in 20 years if im right

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