Researchers have discovered that the key to staying young has just as much to do with keeping not just your body sharp but your mind as well. In layman's term: if you want to stay young, you've got to think young.
Now before you think that means obsessing over any cute person who so much looks your way at the mall or thinking that your parents are ruining your lives, it actually has more to do with your desire to learn new things and constantly pushing yourself in that direction is what ultimately keeps you younger longer.
The more genuinely curious and interested you are in something, the better off you'll be, according to latest studies from the British Psychological Science Post. The hypothesis is that people with higher IQs live longer, however it's much more complex than just saying "well looks like stupid people are screwed."
That's because there's a correlation between people with "high IQs" (a rubric for measuring intelligence that actual geniuses think is dumb) and being highly curious about the world around you.
Their findings also revealed that people who had higher IQs when they were younguns tended to "feel younger" when they were older, but that doesn't necessarily mean because you were a smart, young whippersnapper that you're going to necessarily enjoy a longer life and all the dum-dums will be damned: the key is making yourself genuinely feel young by thinking young, regardless of your intelligence.
A "greater openness to experience" was cited in the study as one of the the primary factors in deciding whether or not someone's "subjective age" is higher or lower. A higher IQ may assist in making people more curious when engaging in these new experiences.
David Robinson from the British Psychological Post writes:
" [Studies] found that greater 'openness to experience,' which is associated with having a higher IQ, seemed to be important. Perhaps a higher IQ, which helps us to process complex information more easily, also increases our curiosity about the world, and it's that sense of wonder and excitement that can make us feel more youthful."
Now, when you think about the most curious people in the world, if a toddler or young child doesn't pop up into your head then I'm very sorry for your childhood. I can't walk two feet in the grocery store without my son asking me what everything in his eyesight is.
Although my initial, curmudgeon-ey feeling is to just get the shopping done and get back home, I'm constantly squeezing as much informative juice and really, fun, from every situation I'm in with my son. It's never just a trip to the grocery store or just playing at the park. There's always something new to experience or find or explain to him, and if I don't know something, thank goodness we live in a day and age where the answer to pretty much all known collective human knowledge is a voice command away.
It's that playfulness and curiosity that's at the heart of the study's findings — and researchers have agreed are the keys to "subjective age" and mental youthfulness.
To put it plainly: don't be that know-it-all geezer who sits on a porch and talks about how much life sucks. Be invested and try to generate interest in the world around you. The thing is, when you're older, that takes a bit of work.
"Openness" is one of the "Big Five" personality traits, and how open an individual is can tell you a lot about their personality. So, what do you do if you're just "not an open person" and that was never a personality trait. Sit at home and wait to die? Well, no.
As it turns out, no one's really stuck with one personality. Just like your bodyweight and muscle density, fast twitch responses, or overall capacity for knowledge, you can alter your personality if you really want. Sounds easier said than done, but it's actually quite simple. Although simple doesn't mean easy.
Because, at the end of the day, you actually have to put yourself through the paces of actually living through things that'll interest you and actually doing them. It's the same concept as dieting and exercising.
Putting yourself on a caloric deficit and exercising more is a simple way of losing weight that is scientifically proven for virtually 100 percent of the human population. However, actually changing our habits on a daily basis for a consistent period of time is difficult. So, you have to put yourself through the paces of actually sticking to a meal and exercises routine to physically lose weight. The same goes for changing your personality.
What excites you? Is there a dream that you want to attain? Is there something you always wondered about or wanted to get better at? Know your goal and work towards attaining that goal every single day.
Think about things you were obsessed with as a child, whether it was playing an instrument or getting really great at a videogame, or mastering an aspect of a sport or heck, performing yo-yo tricks.
By physically going through the motions, especially when you don't particularly feel like doing it, and reflecting on what that's going to mean for the rest of your life if you refuse to fold at the slightest inconvenience, you'll re-train your personality to go from someone who just caves at the first sight of pressure to someone who persists no matter what the cost.
It sounds simple, but our current personalities will get in the way of us trying to attain what we want. But much like a muscle, you will be able to train yourself out of whatever funk you're in and eventually will find something to be interested in — as long as you keep going. It could also be as simple as getting out of your comfort zone on a small scale.
Trying a new menu option, eating at a new lunch spot, or watching a new TV show you would have otherwise not picked up, all of these "adventurous" activities could have big implications for your personality on the long term. "Openness," as a result, will become a personality trait simply by virtue of conditioning.
This wonderful Inc. article also delineates how trying new experiences and venturing into the unknown slows down time, since the passage of time is pretty much an illusion and all up to our perception of it, we'll not only act and feel young, but we'll think young as a result.
So what are you waiting for? Break out of your old routine and get started on thinking young right now. Just be persistent and don't shy away from the tedium of your own personality — you'll feel like you're living forever as a result. That's enough preaching from me though, I'm gonna get to doing it for myself right now.