The Ageless Mind:
How to Stay Sharp No Matter What Your Age
By Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.
never thought about his age in relation to his position during his
eight years at the company. Everything was fine until a recent wave of
new hirings and promotions in his division. He noticed for the first
time that he was beginning to be the senior member of the
organization, not only in his length of time at the company, but also
in his age. This was
unsettling. Roger noticed
that there was a certain “youthful enthusiasm” in the new hires;
and suddenly it occurred to him that he had gradually lost that
quality over the past eight years.
He became a little insecure in his position for the first time.
He wondered if he was going to be left in the dust of the
energy that these new people were exuding.
Roger wondered if he could somehow regain his vigor and
vitality that had subtly faded.
“youthful edge” is an asset that will give you an advantage in any
career. There is no
escaping it: our society is increasingly “youth-oriented.”
That’s because the passion that is necessary to achieve
greatness is associated with the attitudes that many young people
still have, before too many disappointments come along in their lives.
However, “youthful” is an attitude, not an age.
Most anyone of any age can easily develop the attitude and
stamina that will give you the ability to compete with the most
dynamic people in the workforce. Ayn Rand referred to that personal
quality this way: “It is a sense of enormous expectation, the sense
that one’s life is important, that great achievements are within
one’s capacity, and that great things lie ahead” (The
Fountainhead, Penguin Putman Inc., New York, 1943). You, too, can have
this quality of being.
some steps that you can take to develop an attitude that is considered
youthful, because it is an attitude that is associated with the
passion, enthusiasm and vitality of youth.
Unfortunately, most people become more cynical and discouraged
with age and experience; but cynicism and discouragement are
unnecessary learned perspectives on life that result from
disappointments, losses, and extraneous influences that accrue over
time. You don’t have to give in to those things. You can maintain a
fresh outlook on life that is indeed full of possibilities. The more
you believe in new possibilities, the more you will see new
possibilities. As humans we do tend to find whatever we are looking
for. Look for what you are passionate about (or, perhaps what you once
“were” passionate about) to happen in your life, then take steps
to make those things happen. In the process, you will be living in a
way that increases your stamina.
some simple steps you can take every day to maintain a fresh outlook
on life, a sharp mental acuity, physical energy, and the positive mood
that draws people to you. With
these qualities and your experience in life you can be a most valuable
asset for a lifetime.
Examine your attitude: Look at your attitude toward the people in
your life, the people in society (of all ages), and the situations in
your life. Find the
negativity and extinguish it. There
is nothing that is more of a turn-off in a company than a person who
harbors ill-will toward any person, or even any group in society.
Drop the negativity. It’s
not getting you where you need to be in life.
Look forward to your positive goals, which hopefully benefit
others as much as they do you; and work passionately toward them.
Have goals about which you feel passionate: Your experience
in life may have been a bad teacher.
It might have taught you that your fondest goals cannot be
reached, because of a few disappointments.
Don’t believe it. You
can get there. Put
yourself enthusiastically into the things about which you are or were
passionate. Along the way,
lift up other people in the process of trying to reach their goals.
Recent history has taught us the lessons of what happens when
you strive toward a certain type of “greatness” while selfishly
leaving others to suffer. On
the other hand we have many recent examples of highly successful
people who are very altruistic and are becoming more successful in the
Keep your brain sharp by giving yourself mental challenges: Learn
new skills, do the crossword puzzle (or sudoku), increase your
vocabulary, read outside of your usual interests. Simply taking a
different route to work or even wearing your watch on the opposite
wrist can help you stay mentally sharp. New learning of any kind can
increase your brain’s capacity. It’s just like building muscle by
working out at the gym.
Treat your body to a boost: Some things you do will
increase your mental acuity, boost your mood, and help your physical
ability as well:
some form of activity every day that increases your blood
circulation. This will
nourish your brain, build muscle tone, increase serotonin levels
(body chemicals that are natural mood elevators), and relieve
foods rich in anti-oxidant vitamins, such as blueberries and
spinach. Also take in
omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold-water fish and in capsules at
the store). Your brain
and body love these, and will reward you by functioning much more
alcoholic drinks. Alcohol
kills brain cells, speeds up the brain and body’s aging process,
and decreases serotonin. You
will have an edge over anyone who drinks, if you use a little
Your brain and body need this restorative time.
humor daily: Develop a sense of humor.
Everyone loves a good laugh.
Even if you are not the one full of jokes, join in the fun with
those who are. If you
develop the ability to laugh at yourself you will be even more fun to
be around. Laughter
increases energy levels, increases serotonin, and relieves stress.
time to play: Make it a priority to do activities that you find
fun. If you must, schedule time into your calendar to do the things
you love. And make sure you follow-through! These activities can
increase another mood-enhancing body chemical: dopamine.
involved with recent events: Keep up with current trends in
society, politics, culture and style. You don’t have to like the
trends, and you certainly don’t need to try to look like someone
half your age; but just be aware (in the loop).
these simple suggestions will give you that youthful edge in the
workplace; and in the process you will find yourself happier and
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