Enjoy each moment

25 May 2017 / 08:35 H.

    ONE of the funny things in life is how our perspective changes as we grow older. When we are in our teens, we are hugely influenced by the media. Pretty things to wear, funky things to own or cool crowds to belong to would drive us towards our career goals. In our 20s, once settled in our career, some might realise that the swanky homes or flashy cars they wanted don't bring them the joy or fulfilment they thought they would. Their career becomes "just a job" .
    As we grow older, many of us find that ageing well without growing old is important. Yet there is a struggle, because of all the cynicism and negativity we have absorbed along the way; the failed promotions, the office politics, the disappointment in marriage and children, all these things might sour us to the point that we feel 50 when we are only 40.
    These feelings are now apparently proven to be a reflection of our ageing process. Scientists have discovered that our ageing is dictated not just by our genes, but also what we feed our body, how much we exercise, and our thought patterns.
    To cut the long scientific story short, at the end of each chromosome of our cells are the telomeres. Telomeres determine how fast a cell ages; short telomeres are one of the reasons human cells grow old. Scientists have discovered that a few thought patterns shorten the length of telomeres, the first being cynical hostility. This goes beyond being cynical or hostile, but more along the lines of "This guy cut queue on purpose just so that I can't go ahead first". Sounds familiar? How many of you have these thought patterns when in traffic or in a supermarket queue? Or how about the time that woman didn't say hello to you? She did it on purpose right?
    How many of you experience this kind of thought patterns throughout the day? Or how many of your friends who are your age but look 20 years older are like this?
    The second thought pattern that ages people is pessimism. This also tallies with other research that pessimism is a risk factor for health. You and I both know these kinds of people. They'll say, "If only I could do this or that" and then you support them by saying, "Go for it!" Then all the excuses come up: they are too old, they have a family, they have responsibilities, nobody understands. Well, Donald Trump has all those things and he became the president of the United States. If that can happen, so can all your dreams!
    The third thought pattern that adversely affects the length of your telomeres is rumination. Rumination is rehashing your problems in your mind. That woman didn't say hello to you? Must be because she is jealous. She is plotting your downfall. No, wait, not just your downfall, but the downfall of your entire family. What could you do to beat her? Wait, beat only her? Why, you need to beat her and all her descendants until the end of time. Sounds familiar? All of us know at least one person like this. Their telomeres are short, by the way.
    With Mother's Day just over, and reading of the sad stories of mothers abandoned in old folks homes, I'm motivated to at least try to be at peace with myself, eat right, exercise enough and foster enough goodwill within so that, among other things, my telomeres don't shorten.
    It's a tough life, but sometimes how we view the toughness makes a world of difference, not just to our wellbeing in our mind, but also in our body. Give yourself and those around you a break: let go of things you can't control and enjoy every moment. Your telomeres will thank you!
    Daniel freelances in writing and fitness training, and has a deep passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com


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