Mindfully Adding Years To Your Life – Appreciate How Incredible You Really Are

To kick off this new series of mindfully adding life to your years (Maltyy), we take a look how you can lead a happier and healthier life by simply having a greater awareness of just how incredible your body really is and the environment you live in.

Adding life to your years, becomes entirely possible when you are constantly aware that this is your one and only chance of life on planet earth, and that you had better make the most of it.

We have all read stories about people who have had near death experiences and come out the other side with a heightened sense of what life is all about. And are determined to make the most of it.

My mother would often tell me, that the older you get, the faster time passes. I never believed her. And now, at age 78, I absolutely do, and find it hard to believe that 80 is just around the corner.

A while ago I attended Gunther von Hagen’s amazing “Body World’s” exhibition in Auckland. You can see from this photo, the incredible complexity of the human body. The skin all stripped away to show what’s underneath, and displayed in many different, sometimes very athletic poses. And cross sections of brains and all of our other organs, either in situ, or suspended on their own.

Absolutely jaw dropping, and made me instantly aware of this gift of life, these trillions of cells include muscles, tendons, hormones, nerves, bones, hormones and more. Most of us are given the near perfect model, which allows us to breathe, move, smell, think, see, touch and feel. Wow, how about that. Well, do you ever stop to think, and be grateful to have been given this gift of life? I for one would have to admit, that more often than not, I don’t. So, I thought I would do something about this.

In my early days I had been a physical education teacher and played many sports. My wife Kate and I walk in some hilly area every day in our beautiful seaside Devonport village, and we still play tennis and golf. I regularly do stretches and resistance exercises and now no longer take all of this for granted. I celebrate all of these activities and movements, and are far more aware of my breathing, heart rate, general fitness and have even become more tolerant of my sundry aches and pains.

Being grateful for all this, I’m sure makes me happier and more aware of other stuff that my senses offer. The warmth of the sun, the colours of the magnificent scenery around our local coast, the smell of the ocean, and the feel of the velvety, cool salt water on a summers day.

How fortunate am I to have been gifted with a well coordinated body, and to have lived to this age, where so many other people have fallen short along the way. Covid 19 has been very testing for all of us, and a significant stain right across the globe. Once again, how fortunate to have reached this age before striking something as tempestuous and threatening as this. ‘Down Under’ we have done reasonably well, unlike other parts of the world who are suffering mightily. 

On the other hand, of course, I still have days where I get really grumpy with things like these aches and pains, the barking dog next door and the crappy winter weather. The trick is to be mindful of my mood swings and switch back to being a bit more grateful for the brilliant lifestyle that we both have.  

And so back in my happy place, I am in awe that my body, even after seven plus decades, and some two and half billion odd heart beats later, can still marshal all my bits together to allow me to still be  a reasonably well functioning old fart.

Back to our senses now. I heard someone recently say how much they love all the different shades of green in their garden. I thought to myself, ”Different shades of green?” I went out into my own garden to take a look, and sure enough, I saw many different shades of green. I had suddenly reengaged my sense of sight and was better for it. And yes, there are many of our favourite smells and aromas like freshly ground coffee beans and bacon being fried that we simply can’t miss.

On the other hand there is so much we miss out on if our senses are switched off. We are sometimes quite simply too busy and preoccupied to actually notice that brilliant piece of street art or the welcoming, soft feel of the comfortable couch that we have just sunken into.

Eating and drinking forms a major part of all our lives. I’m often quite gobsmacked at the speed some people demolish their meals and snacks. Not good for the digestion and a tendency also to over-eat when food’s rushed. Not a time either for multi-tasking, so put those devices away, and focus on that delicious food, and the friends and family you share it with.    

If this is ringing a bell with you, I can tell you most emphatically, that being in the moment, and keeping your senses switched on, will enhance your life exponentially.

Its quite simple really, if you can truly appreciate this gift of life, and your amazing body , a much happier and perhaps more productive life beckons.

And don’t forget to truly switch your senses on too!         

So what does this all add up to. You’re only going to get this one and only body, so you’d better look after it. What really motivates me is to be able to help as many people as possible actually do this. And what really demotivates me, is to see so many people neglecting their bodies, and the resulting obesity and diabetes epidemics and general lack of fitness are the end result.

The over-arching essence of Maltyy is to find ways to add life to your years. The ‘M’ for mindfulness is key, in that if you can find ways to be more present, rather than being distracted, you will enrich your life greatly, by being completely aware of some of the great moments that occur every day of your life. It can be as simple as the brilliant colours and fragrance of that single rose in your garden. Or the brightly coloured orange hue of the sunset over the water on your drive home from work. If you are preoccupied with other thoughts and not present, you’ll miss all of that. Worse still, if those thought are negative. 

Hopefully this has helped set the scene for this Maltyy series. And to finish, one call to action. Make an effort this week to be more in the moment. Might be a conversation with an old mate, eating a great dinner, or any other part of your life.  

Each week we will tackle a specific new topic and I’m looking forward to getting some really good conversations going around all this.

This is my last blog for the year – have a great Christmas and New Year!