Age is about mind over matter: if you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter!
Your subjective age — meaning the age you feel in your spirit and in your bones — is the magic number. In fact, a growing body of research suggests your subjective age may be a better predictor of your physical health, well-being, vitality, and even life expectancy.
Feeling younger than you are might:
- keep you open to new experiences
- maintain or improve your physical health
- boost your mental health and well-being
- prolong your life and keep you thriving in your later years
That might sound all fine and dandy if you’re “feeling 22,” like in that Taylor Swift song. But what if life’s stressors have taken their toll, and your subjective age is actually higher than the number of candles on your cake?
Don’t fret. Unlike your true age, you can change your subjective age and keep livin’ it up.
Youth is wasted on the young, the saying goes. And wisdom is wasted on the old. But with a younger subjective age, you can have it all: spontaneity, energy, and the prudence from past experience.
Aim for a youthful personality:
- Engage in social activities.
- Rack up new experiences.
- Travel to new places, local and not.
- Be more spontaneous.
We might remember our 20s as more teeter-tottery than the rest. Perhaps we moved around for school or work, changed jobs, traveled, stayed till closing time, or had some fiery relationships. Maybe all of the above!
Research does show, however, that we’re actually wired for and crave all that change in our 20s. We’re more open to new experiences, more vivacious, and even more sociable.
Then as we reach our 30s, 40s, and 50s, our personalities shift. We start to settle into life and our roles in it. We tend to plan ahead, become more conscientious, sharpen our self-discipline, and grow our compassion for others and our agreeability.
We might also start to have more responsibilities that prevent us from, say, driving around the continent in a van. But being less impulsive doesn’t mean we can’t live an exuberant life. When we feel younger than we are, research suggests we remain tapped into that wildness of our youth while honing it with the wisdom of our actual years.
So even if you have a mortgage to pay, a steady job to maintain, kiddos to care for, or just general adulting to do, you should still make efforts to amp up the fun.
“Try new things,” says Kelly Bos, MSW, a psychotherapist. “This is good for the brain and keeps you from getting stuck in a routine.”
You don’t have to go skydiving or rappel into an active volcano — unless you want to. Opt for a bourbon-tasting trip or a beginner aerial yoga class.
And whatever you do, take a friend (or few) with you. Getting together with the positive and supportive people in your world can also help you feel younger. “We can feel more energized simply by the company we keep,” Bos adds.
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