Stand guard at the portal of your mind. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few years ago I read a book that literally changed my life because it changed my thoughts. Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Singer M.D. opened up a whole new way of being and living. The book described that although we get older based on the calendar year we can actually be younger next year if we commit to certain lifestyle habits. What I read in that book changed my life!

Knowing that we are either growing or decaying is a pretty powerful realization. Nothing remains the same and that includes our physical body and mind.

I hear so many people say, “someone my age can’t do this or that” or “this old body isn’t what it used to be” or “ I expect to get this disease or that disease because it runs in my family.” Now when I hear that kind of self-talk I cringe because our beliefs affect our actions and our actions affect our health and our lives.

It’s not just middle-aged or older people that have that mindset. I’ve heard plenty of people in their 20’s say ‘I must be getting older because this or that is bugging me.”

What happens when you really believe that you can be younger next year?

You begin to make different choices because you challenge your outdated belief. This is a change that happens from the inside out. It’s not about trying to dress like you’re 20 when you’re middle-aged or deny that you’re getting a year older every birthday.

You begin making decisions that support your younger next year belief. You think differently and then you act differently.

What did that look like in my life? I have always worked out, but I decided to challenge myself and started doing Cross Fit. Many people wondered why someone my age would do that and what was I trying to prove. I guess what I was trying to prove was that my body would respond to intense exercise and that as long as I took a gradual, intelligent approach and pushed myself within my abilities, I’d be fine. With that approach and belief, I have grown stronger, more flexible and more confident and am physiologically younger than I was a few years ago.

I’ve also taken a younger next year approach with my brain.

I used to believe that our brains are bound to deteriorate as we get older and that certain diseases are genetically determined like Alzheimer’s disease. Now I know that my daily meditation and mindfulness practices are changing the structure and function of my brain and that my brain, like my body, can be younger next year.

We all know people that live as if they’re going to be younger next year or conversely older, often much older, next year. It is so powerful to realize that we have a choice and way more control over what happens to us physically and mentally than we’ve ever known.

This belief works whether you’re 20 or 90. My dad is in his mid 80’s and about a year ago finished a full year of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery for rectal cancer. He was hospitalized for months on end because his body was beginning to shut down. He was very close to death. He didn’t die and has come back stronger than ever. But that didn’t just happen by chance. He works at it. He lives like he’ll be younger next year.

Your cells hear and respond to your thoughts as well as your actions. In a really enlightening book, The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton draws on new biology research to explain how our thoughts can actually change our DNA.

The moral of the story is that your thoughts are more powerful than you realize. They determine a great deal about your biology, your health and how your life will unfold.

How would you live your life if you realized that you could be younger next year?