"Think young and do what you love" to stay young at heart.

How can we slow down the ageing process?

"THINK young and do what you love." This was the philosophy of a friend of ours, a 74-year-old leader of a swing band.

A few years ago, I attended a charity concert where his band was performing. The swing band was made up of 18 musicians, ranging in age from 26 to 85.

Our friend said that the mix of ages kept the older musicians young at heart.

Having a purpose and a positive outlook certainly proved that if we think and feel younger than we are, we can look younger and healthier, slowing down the aging process.

I believe that if we have "fear" thoughts about aging, we will age quicker than someone who accepts the aging process as the natural flow of life and sees new opportunities for continued growth.

Back in the 1970s, Louise Hay wrote her best-selling book, You Can Heal Your Life, in which she discusses the mental patterns that create our physical illnesses and how to create positive affirmations to heal these illnesses. I personally have found this book a source of inspiration for many years.

Research now says that as much as 80% of our physical illnesses can originate from our thought patterns.

For a number of years I ran courses in public speaking. I found that the common, underlying belief that holds many people back from reaching their potential as a presenter is: "I am not worth listening to".

This belief was reflected in nervous body language and voice.

Before I could successfully help them to improve their presentation techniques, I focussed on helping them to change that belief.

Time and time again, over the years, I have seen a transformation in people, as they began to say over and over to themselves, "I am now worth listening to".

This new belief was reflected in a more confident voice and body language and their ability to connect with their listeners improved greatly.

Of course, to make this new thought pattern a habit, they needed to practise it regularly.

Things that can lead to mental decline and hasten the aging process are stress, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, worry, anger, too much caffeine and alcohol. They all affect our ability to think and remember clearly.

To slow down the aging process and to stay healthier mentally and physically, there are a number of easy things you can do every day that involves minimum spending of money.

A good night's sleep regenerates the brain. Positive thoughts, including daily gratitude for the good in your life, strengthens the immune system. A daily walk and focused breathing rejuvenates the brain and helps you to think more clearly. Eat well, drink moderately, laugh more and enjoy friendships and the simple pleasures of life each day.

Today's babyboomers, especially women, don't feel their age. We still want to look good, but with all the persuasive advertising about cosmetic surgery promising to make us look young forever, it can lead to women avoiding the reality of aging, especially physical aging.

Why not accept that our physical features are slowly maturing and get on with living life to the full and stop thinking about aging.

Our thoughts create our reality, so rather than focusing on fear thoughts of aging that can speed up the aging process, think mainly good thoughts about how we can get the most from each stage of our lives, to live a longer, healthier and happier life.

Too often people look to material things, or facelifts, or other people to make them happy, only to find that these things are short-lived.

When you meet someone who is truly happy, their eyes shine, they have a lovely aura about them and whether they are wearing designer clothes or expensive make-up, is not the important factor.

You can have all the beauty treatments in the world and the most expensive clothes, but if you are constantly thinking negatively about your life and other people, this will show through.

So if we want to slow down the aging process, start thinking good thoughts every day and be thankful every day for the good in your life.

It's all in the mind.

By Eva Bennett; visit www. plansretirement.com.au or email eva.bennett@ bigpond.com.

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