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12 Characteristics of Vitality at Any Age

  • Brought to you by: Tak Poon M.D.

  • In my Cardiology practice, most of my patients are over 65. A large number of them are in their 80s and 90s. So many of them teach me much more than I can ever claim as my contributions to their longevity. This is particularly true for those who age gracefully, in sharp contrast to some of my younger patients who suffer from premature aging. The angioplasties and pills I give to these two different groups of patients are the same, but how they conduct their lives are distinctively different.

    As a believer in the integrative and holistic medical approach, I particularly enjoy understanding my patients’ medical conditions in the context of their inner lives and outer environments. In addition to the undeniable marvels of modern medicine and the obvious benefits of a healthy lifestyle, the following are some of the characteristics I’ve observed in many of the older women and men who look and feel their best at an advanced age—or at any age. Everyone is different, so pick one that may be the number one thing for you, or be inspired to come up with your own.

    1. Living in the moment, not knowing how much more time they will have. (Does anyone?)
    2. Fortune cookie wisdom: “Age is but a matter of mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
    3. Forgiving themselves as well as others.
    4. Grateful and not perfectionist: “I’m not perfect, but parts of me are excellent.”
    5. Humorous, laughing, smiling. Taking life seriously but themselves lightly.
    6. Curious and eager to learn new things. Not inhibited to mingle with people much younger.
    7. Flexibility—physical and attitudinal. Yoga can help that.
    8. Stability of posture, gait and inner core. Tai Chi can help that.
    9. Meditation practice of some sort, e.g. praying, quilting, journaling, gardening.
    10. Feisty but not nasty, knowing when to say no and disengage.
    11. Being alone (in solitude yet connected) without being lonely (alienated and disconnected), as one strand in the “world wide web.”
    12. Acceptance of what is—good, bad, or indifferent -- and the wisdom to know what one can and cannot do to change it. Always knowing “this too shall pass.”

    Everybody looks best when smiling. A person feels best when being one with (i.e. an integral part of) all there is. When a person is there for you and for the situation with her total presence, attention, compassion and goodwill, that’s when her inner beauty shines through. That’s when she feels her best, at any age, in any condition.

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