Attitude Adjustment

stress eraserLive long and prosper. Spock on Startrek, right? Prospering? Not so much. But boomers are determined to live long and are exploring everything from yoga to special diets in order to keep the ageometer spinning.

Can we stop or slow down time or is it all in the genes? When gerontologist Mark Lachs was interviewed on NPR, he explained that the key factor in longevity is a trait geriatricians call adaptive competence. How do you react to stress? The quicker you bounce back from stressful situations, the less likely you are to suffer its consequences.

Lachs has a 109 year old patient who likes chocolate truffles and drinks Budweiser. She’s also thinking of taking up smoking again. But the amazing thing about her is the way she dusts herself off and picks herself up after any adversities.

If you’re thinking to yourself that this is all about glass half-full vs glass half empty ---- you’re right. My own mother has batted away pneumonia at age 102 and a flu virus at 104. She never exercised in her life (unless you count crossword puzzles) and wouldn’t know a freeweight from a paper weight. I’m not sure that she has a particularly optimistic outlook on life, but I am sure that she considers any infirmities to be minor trifles, nothing she needs to be overly concerned about. This ability to move forward after the greatest setbacks is at the heart of adaptive competence.

SpockSo for those boomers seeking to extend their life as long as possible (and I’m not sure I want to live to be 100), the solution would appear to be getting an attitude adjustment. Learn how to deal with stress if you have not already established the “shoulder shrug” response. Stress takes a physical and mental toll, which makes it essential to have a relaxed response if one wants to live long and prosper.

Then maybe those of us who have mastered the zen-like stress response can start smoking again while we drink beer and let the exercise regimen go to hell. Sounds like a plan.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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