Banning the “O” Word

I’ve said it while peeling myself out of bed in the morning. I’ve whined those pathetic words when looking for an excuse to not exercise. I know I’ve complained about it while rotting in traffic during evening commutes. The “O” word. At the not-so-ripe age of 33, I’m already catching myself groaning, “Ugh, I’m getting old.”

I hear people my age and younger using this type of language all the time. Maybe you yourself have said such lame things as:

  • I’m getting too old of this (stuff)
  • Maybe when I was younger
  • That’s a young person’s game
  • Not at my age
  • I remember when I was (younger person’s age)

Come on people! We can do better than this. Join me in making a change.

Calling myself old is an all-too convenient and baseless excuse that I’m starting to use to avoid learning, growing, evolving, and challenging myself. It’s not the real me talking. It’s my inner wimp making excuses.

33 is young. Tom Brady is still the best QB in the NFL, and he’s not too old at 38. Vera Wang wasn’t too old to start a new career when she dipped her toe into the fashion industry at 40. Ray Kroc founded McDonald’s at 52, and the Colonel did it at KFC when he was 62. 15 people over 80 years old finished the NYC marathon in 2015. And Hélio Gracie was teaching Jiu Jitsu on the mat until 10 days before he died at the age of 95!

Age doesn’t make us old. Admitting defeat to Father Time does.

For my fellow thirty somethings, and certainly for people in their twenties, calling ourselves old is just insane. For my forty something friends and coworkers, and for people like my parents who are in their fifties, changing behaviors with age because of negative self-talk is downright dangerous.

Dangerous how? Well look at the things we’re saying we’re too old for:

  • Breaking routines and habits (the dreaded stuck-in-our-ways)
  • Starting over someplace new
  • Partying with friends
  • Changing careers or starting a business
  • Learning a new language
  • Playing sports or engaging in more intense physical activity

Ok, I admit this post is starting to sound very life-coachy, but bear with me.

It’s not hard to see how this type of negative self-talk can quickly become a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy. If I tell myself I’m too old to do any of these activities and I talk myself out of doing them I actually get biologically older faster.

How’s that?

The National Institute of Aging says that people who lead an active lifestyle that includes engaging in new and challenging social, physical, and cognitive activities:

  • Are less likely to develop certain diseases including dementia
  • Have a longer lifespan
  • Are happier and less depressed
  • Are better prepared to cope with loss
  • May be able to improve their thinking abilities

What sort of activities does the NIA recommend to keep ourselves young? A whole bunch of stuff you’re defiantly not too old for regardless of your age (this list may look familiar):

  • Getting out and about by visiting friends and family, being social, and traveling
  • Learning something new by taking an art class, trying yoga, or learning to play an instrument or speak a foreign language
  • Becoming more active in your community by volunteering or supporting a new cause
  • Being more physically active and increasing the intensity of physical activity

These things make us biologically younger. We can keep the fire of our youth lit with just a little bit of effort.

Let’s ban the “O” word from our lexicon. My hope is that I’ll be thwarting yet another attempt by my inner-wimp to turn me into the mindless scared blob of jelly it so desperately wants me to become.

And now, click below for that awesome scene from Interstellar where Michael Caine reads Dylan Thomas’s poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night”:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.