I recently did a lecture for Beebe Hospital’s Integrative Health Series on Telomeres,which are tiny structures that are indicators of biological aging. I was surprised when I was asked to present on such a nuanced topic and was sure I’d have less than a dozen people sitting in the audience. When 3:00 struck I was delighted to see 60+ people staring back at me but I couldn’t help but wonder….why? That question quickly turned into gratitude for the curiosity and openness that our community embodies. I asked the group to “write down 5 words or phrases that immediately come to mind you think about aging”. Studies show that people who look at aging from a positive viewpoint live an average of 7.5 years longer, are happier, healthier and their bodies are up to 20 years younger than their chronological age. Research shows that one’s stereotypes about aging become “self-stereotypes”, meaning your thoughts have tremendous power over how spry or frail you become in your later years. Now I know, there is always someone who says, “but what if you get a health condition that is out of your control?” I challenge you to think about health and disease. Does disease happen overnight? Or is it a number of factors over months or years that throws the body out of balance? We need to start realizing that disease doesn’t happen to us, but that we unwittingly allow it to happen by not understanding that our behaviors and thoughts set the stage for health or illness. I am not saying it is all your fault that you are sick, if your mind immediately went there then that is an old belief system you have adopted and it is affecting every interaction, relationship and your body. Don’t let victimization, or guilt get in the way of your body in the future. Make a choice to see aging as something that not everyone gets to do, is a privilege, a new way to experience your body and the world. Advanced age is a time to embrace your wisdom and experiential knowledge, focus on family and things that bring you pleasure. See your life and each day as a gift. Practice being fully present in each moment. Use your free time to nurture relationships and feed your soul with activities that ignite your passion. Change the way you view aging and change the way you age.