Centuries ago, living past the age of 50 was considered to be a miracle.
However, in this day and age, the life expectancy rate has risen past our ancestor’s wildest dreams. It’s not uncommon to attend a 90th birthday party, or to power walk with your octogenarian neighbor. So, what’s the secret to living well into your 80s, 90s, and beyond? How common is it to live to 100?
Technology has played a part in this phenomenon, of course. Between artificial heart valves, limb replacements, and other advances in medical technology and medicine, most of us don’t risk succumbing to the life-threatening diseases and ailments that our predecessors had to deal with. However, living to a ripe old age goes beyond simple body maintenance. “Centenarian consciousness” is a mind-body process that involves feeling good, adopting healthy rituals, and not letting societal norms influence your thinking.
The Cultural Portals
According to neuropsychologist Dr. Mario Martinez, there are “portals” that we place ourselves into based on what our cultures suggest. These thresholds are commonly experienced during certain milestones in life – birth, childhood, adolescence, old age, etc., and have more of a cultural, rather than biological, component. For instance, if you’re between the ages of 45 and 65, you’re likely to consider yourself middle-aged. Why? Because that’s what you’re told by your culture – your family, the news, even the dictionary! Considering the fact that none of us know what age we’ll die, placing ourselves into a middle-age “portal” is pretty presumptuous. If you live beyond 100, for instance, you will likely still have a lot of spring in your step at 75.
The simple act of telling yourself (and believing) that you’re younger than your age can slow the aging process itself. This is due, in part, to the fact that you’re aligning yourself with a higher, more pleasant frequency. This has nothing to do with denying or being shameful of age; this is about embracing your number and believing that you’re a healthy, vital human being, regardless of the limits that society places on you based on your age bracket.
We live in a society that tells us that we can’t remarry at 85, or start a new hobby at 102. Why not? Don’t all of us deserve love, and a full and meaningful life, regardless of our age? Instead of thinking that to live beyond 100 is the exception, we must start thinking of it as the rule. Being an “outlier” of the common cultural consciousness is key to stepping out of the limiting portals imposed upon us.
Being Your Own Author
When you tell yourself “I’m old” or “I’m weak”, you reinforce those notions across all levels – mental, emotional, spiritual, physical. You start to believe your story. Worse yet, you attract people to you who are more than willing to act as a “co-author” to that story.
By seeking out other outliers to replace the negative co-authors, we start to recreate our stories with more hope and ambition. Let’s say you’ve wanted to take up gardening, for instance. A co-author will tell you “You’re too old to garden. Your knees will give out, your arthritis will flare up”, etc. An outlier will tell you “Why not? Get a knee pad. Work with your comfort level, and see what blooms.”
Instead of trying to change the minds of our co-authors, which is usually a waste of time, we have to edit them out of our stories. We must choose to find those who inspire us to reach beyond what we think that we’re capable of. Find those who hold no expectation of us and, thusly, rebel against any expectations or pressures placed on us by people who are comfortable in their boxes. Once we begin to stand strong in our own beliefs, we lessen the risk of allowing our co-authors to pull us back into the old, familiar portals.
Rituals and Healthy Limits
We often assume that living past 100 involves healthy eating, regular exercise, taking vitamins, and other practices that we assume contribute to longevity. While all of these practices can certainly enhance your quality of life, they’re not the only factors in reaching centenarian status.
In interviewing various centenarians, Dr. Martinez found that ritual is an important aspect. Whether it’s reading before bedtime, adopting a no-screens-at-the-dinner-table rule, or taking a leisurely walk after dinner, ritual is found to be a powerful immune enhancer. Finding purpose in life through ritual or any other means is valuable. It gives us something to look forward to, which is a key influence in living a long life.
Along with ritual, setting limits is very important for health and wellbeing. In a world in which we’re scared to offend, afraid to say “no”, we often find ourselves tapped out, overwhelmed and, simply drained. You may notice that people of a certain age have no problem saying no or offering an unpopular opinion. While we should be balanced in our assertiveness, we must have limits in place that will prevent others from taking too much from us. Once we re-contextualize the meaning of saying no, we can establish a healthier mind-body approach that will elevate our quality of life.
“Healthy” limits involve flexibility, which is another important factor in longevity. When we place labels on ourselves, we’re fearful of straying from them. If you feel you’re “obese”, for instance, you’re likely to feel fearful of food. If you strive to live a vegan lifestyle, you may be fearful of consuming animal products unintentionally. Living in fear ages us substantially, and places us before even more limiting portals. As the simple but profound saying goes, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”
Leading a full life involves opening yourself up to experiences and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Sure, junk food is bad, but eating junk food while feeling guilty about it is worse. It’s far better to enjoy life’s pleasures in moderation, with honesty, self-love, and appreciation of what we have. This, in turn, raises the frequency of everything that we eat, do, and believe.
Find Where You Can Live Beyond 100
Our cultures do, of course, offer us many good things to learn from. In becoming an outlier of society, we must be mindful not to shun the very people and experiences who make us who we are. Simply move away from what is detrimental to your health and happiness. Stick with the people and subcultures of wellness that help you find authenticity in what you’re doing. Whatever milestone or stage of life you’re in, you have the power to wipe the slate clean and enjoy a long and fulfilling life and you may even find yourself living past 100.
What is one of your favorite rituals? Will you still do it when you live beyond 100?
Leave a comment and tell me all about it!