Are You Old or Young?

The typical American way of handling the polarity of old and young is to fixate on being young forever. But the image of America as the land of eternal youth is grossly at odds with reality.

If we look beyond the false duality of “old” and “young,” what we find is a different reality: The body is a network of messages constantly being transmitted and received. Some of these messages nourish and sustain us, while others lead to disorder and breakdown.

Life-nourishing experiences go far beyond cell biology. The tenderness of a mother watching her toddler walk for the first time feeds the baby’s body (witness how a baby languishes when motherly love is withdrawn, even for a day). To a growing child, the sensitive encouragement of a teacher is as important as a hot lunch. What makes for a straighter spine, vitamin-D milk or self-esteem?

Once we reach adulthood, gaining the wholehearted respect of co-workers wards off heart disease as effectively (and much more naturally) as counting milligrams of cholesterol. Respect makes the heart feel trusting and confident, two ingredients that belong inside any healthy body. The decisions we make in terms of our basic happiness and fulfillment are therefore exactly the ones that determine how we age.

It has dawned on medicine that nurturing is immensely valuable physiologically. If newborns are touched and caressed, their levels of growth hormones increase, and the protective coating of the motor nerves, myelin, becomes thicker. A mother’s loving urge to cuddle her baby translates directly into life-sustaining biochemical reactions.

Babies deprived of loving attention can become emotionally stunted or dysfunctional. The instinct for emotional nourishment proves more powerful than does that for physical nourishment.

Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1998).

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176 comments

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago

Thanks Deepak.

Julie H.
Julie Hoffman3 years ago

good article

Gwynethrose F.
Gwynethrose F.3 years ago

In my early sixties now, and I feel much younger than that...in fact, I keep dancing and exercising and laughing...all important, I think.

Alan M.
Past Member 3 years ago

One day at a time.

Turid K.
Past Member 3 years ago

Lovely truths!
If we all treat each other with respect,dignity and warmt everybody will end up with better health.

Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg3 years ago

Hugs to all of you! :):):):)

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V.3 years ago

BOTH : )

Kari Knabe
Kari Knabe3 years ago

Thanks!!

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M.3 years ago

@Zee k- am in my '70's too. Agree- I like where I am at. Youth and aging are indeed beyond cell biology. Some fail to embrace the fact that years do pile up- instead of fighting the outward looks, they should look inward- nurture their spirits, exercise mind and body, adopt a healthy and meaningful lifestyle , and practise attitude of gratitude. My $ worth of thoughts.

KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.