Younger Next Year

Younger Next Year is a book I keep coming back to. I forget who first turned me on to it, but I read it in my mid-fifties, and it continues to inspire me.  The bottom line is that at some point, sometime in our forties or fifties, our bodies want to get old and decay. It is time, and they are ready to fade. We can’t stop it, but we can do a great job of slowing it down. Some of the quotes that have impacted me:

  • “So how do we keep ourselves from decaying? By changing the signals we send to our bodies. The keys to overriding the decay code are daily exercise, emotional commitment, reasonable nutrition and a real engagement with living. But it starts with exercise.”
  • “In short, we have adopted a lifestyle which—for people designed as we were designed—is nothing less than a disease. Think about that. Our lifestyle—especially in retirement, especially in this wonderful country—is a disease more deadly than cancer, war or plague.” That lifestyle comes about because, relative to our ancestors, everything is easy now. Food is plentiful, we live comfortable lives, and the threat of true danger rarely appears in our lives. It’s not what our bodies are expecting.
  • “Biologically, there is no such thing as retirement, or even aging. There is only growth or decay, and your body looks to you to choose between them.”
  • “You can control the cycle [of stress, inflammation, and repair]. Commuting, loneliness, apathy, too much alcohol and TV all trigger the inflammatory part of the cycle. But daily exercise, joy, play, engagement, challenge and closeness all trigger the crucial repair.”
  • “Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.”
  • “Aerobic exercise does more to stop actual death, but strength training can make your life worthwhile.”
  • “Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.”

Obviously, this stuff is really hard. It’s way easier to decay and grow truly old. I am choosing to fight. I hope this effort will help counteract whatever life throws at me, and I’m not going down easy.

 

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

I’m not sure why I haven’t added this book until now. I’ve been reading it and re-reading it for years, and it has helped me through many a stressful time. I love the references to all of the world’s major religions. The main premise is rather Buddhist in nature, seeking the end of suffering through quieting the mind, but Tolle employs wisdom from many religions in explaining the path. I feel that I can go to this book and open it up to any page to find wisdom and guidance. Some of the passages I have highlighted over the years include:

  • Enlightenment is not only the end of suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the end of the dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking. What an incredible liberation this is!
  • Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
  • When listening to another person, don’t just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen. That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving the other person space — space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give.

Another book in my bibliography on meditation is 10% Happier, which is a much lighter version, kind of a sports center version, of the power of meditation.  I recommend it as well, but The Power of Now is the true source for me. And true enlightenment is like Calculus – we can approach it the answer, but even the best at it don’t quite get there. I have a long way to go, and I am grateful for this book.