Taking the easy way, just won’t cut it…. so doing crossword puzzles is the not the route to longevity. The key to Superaging is to exert effort mentally and physically, push and challenge yourself.

How to Become a ‘Superager’

Gray Matter By LISA FELDMAN BARRETT DEC. 31, 2016

Think about the people in your life who are 65 or older. Some of them are experiencing the usual mental difficulties of old age, like forgetfulness or a dwindling attention span. Yet others somehow manage to remain mentally sharp. My father-in-law, a retired doctor, is 83 and he still edits books and runs several medical websites.

Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? “Superagers” (a term coined by the neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. My colleagues and I at Massachusetts General Hospital recently studied superagers to understand what made them tick.

Our lab used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan and compare the brains of 17 superagers with those of other people of similar age. We succeeded in identifying a set of brain regions that distinguished the two groups. These regions were thinner for regular agers, a result of age-related atrophy, but in superagers they were indistinguishable from those of young adults, seemingly untouched by the ravages of time.

What are these crucial brain regions? If you asked most scientists to guess, they might nominate regions that are thought of as “cognitive” or dedicated to thinking, such as the lateral prefrontal cortex. However, that’s not what we found. Nearly all the action was in “emotional” regions, such as the midcingulate cortex and the anterior insula.

My lab was not surprised by this discovery, because we’ve seen modern neuroscience debunk the notion that there is a distinction between “cognitive” and “emotional” brain regions.

This distinction emerged in the 1940s, when a doctor named Paul MacLean devised a model of the human brain with three layers. An ancient inner layer, inherited from reptiles, was presumed to contain circuits for basic survival. The middle layer, the “limbic system,” supposedly contained emotion circuitry inherited from mammals. And the outermost layer was said to house rational thinking that is uniquely human. Dr. MacLean called this model “the triune brain.”

The triune brain became (and remains) popular in the media, the business world and certain scientific circles. But experts in brain evolution discredited it decades ago. The human brain didn’t evolve like a piece of sedimentary rock, with layers of increasing cognitive sophistication slowly accruing over time. Rather (in the words of the neuroscientist Georg Striedter), brains evolve like companies do: they reorganize as they expand. Brain areas that Dr. MacLean considered emotional, such as the regions of the “limbic system,” are now known to be major hubs for general communication throughout the brain. They’re important for many functions besides emotion, such as language, stress, regulation of internal organs, and even the coordination of the five senses into a cohesive experience.

And now, our research demonstrates that these major hub regions play a meaningful role in superaging. The thicker these regions of cortex are, the better a person’s performance on tests of memory and attention, such as memorizing a list of nouns and recalling it 20 minutes later.

Of course, the big question is: How do you become a Superager? Which activities, if any, will increase your chances of remaining mentally sharp into old age? We’re still studying this question, but our best answer at the moment is: work hard at something. Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. You can therefore help keep these regions thick and healthy through vigorous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort. My father-in-law, for example, swims every day and plays tournament bridge.

The road to superaging is difficult, though, because these brain regions have another intriguing property: When they increase in activity, you tend to feel pretty bad — tired, stymied, frustrated. Think about the last time you grappled with a math problem or pushed yourself to your physical limits. Hard work makes you feel bad in the moment. The Marine Corps has a motto that embodies this principle: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” That is, the discomfort of exertion means you’re building muscle and discipline. Superagers are like Marines: They excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort. Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention.

This means that pleasant puzzles like Sudoku are not enough to provide the benefits of superaging. Neither are the popular diversions of various “brain game” websites. You must expend enough effort that you feel some “yuck.” Do it till it hurts, and then a bit more.

In the United States, we are obsessed with happiness. But as people get older, research shows, they cultivate happiness by avoiding unpleasant situations. This is sometimes a good idea, as when you avoid a rude neighbor. But if people consistently sidestep the discomfort of mental effort or physical exertion, this restraint can be detrimental to the brain. All brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

So, make a New Year’s resolution to take up a challenging activity. Learn a foreign language. Take an online college course. Master a musical instrument. Work that brain. Make it a year to remember.




You don’t have to believe your negative thoughts!


You don’t actually have to believe your thoughts. It’s as simple as that. Sort of. No, it is, but let me explain.

Your mind would like you to believe that all of your thoughts are correct. One of the ways it does this is by having you think that you and it are one. The truth is your mind is just one part of you; it isn’t you.

Being able to separate your thoughts from your sense of self is one of the most useful things you can do. Try this: think of yourself as being made up of four parts.

  1. Mind
  2. Physical body
  3. Heart
  4. Spiritual aspect

This means: You. Are. Not Your. Mind. Your mind is just a tool for you to use.

All of your thoughts and perceptions are filtered through your unique belief system, and it’s this filter that causes negative thoughts. The negativity is in the filter.

When you try to “heal” and “grow,” what you’re trying to do is change the filter; you’re trying to change your belief system. You are the bit underneath your thoughts, and you will never change. You can’t—nor would you want to. You’re perfect.

You don’t have to analyze your nasty critical thoughts or worry about them. They’re just thoughts. If you really want to have fewer of them, stop listening to them.

Feeling solidly peaceful and contented occurs when your mind is quiet, or in the moments, no matter how small, when you remember that you don’t have to believe your thoughts.

Or, as I like to say, ”I don’t feel bad; my mind does!”

One thing I find helpful for dealing with a long held critical belief is to treat it like a game.

I think to myself, what if I didn’t believe this, even for a few seconds? The result is always strangely exhilarating. I can actually feel what it’s like to not believe it. (And sometimes it does only last for a few seconds!)


The Space

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”

~ Victor Frankl’s   Man’s Search for Meaning


The Humanness Reminder

When we are faced with life’s challenges in the form of difficult ‘people’ we forget how similar our needs and wants are….

These compassionate thoughts will help increase your awareness.

  • This person in front of me has a body and a mind… Just like me.
  • This person in front of me has feelings, emotions and thoughts… Just like me.
  • This person in front of me has in his or her life, experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering… Just like me.
  • This person in front of me wishes to be free from pain and suffering… Just like me.
  • This person in front of me wishes to be healthy and loved… Just like me.
  • This person in front of me wishes to be happy… Just like me

By Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute <info@siyli.org

According to research and analysis from the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

138,000 — or one in every 18 — patients admitted to a Canadian hospital in 2014-15 suffered some kind of harmful event that could potentially have been prevented, from getting the wrong drug to developing an infection, a report released Wednesday has found.

Of those 138,000 patients, about 30,000 had more than one adverse event that compromised their care…..




Emotions and Health

Dr. Gabor Mate, MD. Yes Magazine, FROM THE WINTER ISSUE – Good Health

“I never get angry,” says a character in one of Woody Allen’s movies. “I grow a tumor instead.” Much more scientific truth is captured in that droll remark than many doctors would recognize. Mainstream medical practice largely ignores the role of emotions in the physiological functioning of the human organism. Yet the scientific evidence abundantly shows that people’s lifetime emotional experiences profoundly influence health and illness. And, since emotional patterns are a response to the psychological and social environment, disease in an individual always tells us about the multigenerational family of origin and the broader culture in which that person’s life unfolds….

Please click the link below to read the whole article.


~ Gabor Maté, M.D., frequently addresses lay and professional audiences across North America and internationally. His books include When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction. drgabormate.com









By Dr. Elaine Dembe

  1. Explore life and live it as an adventure. – Even if you have no one to do it with. Never deny yourself the pleasure of doing something just because you are alone. Do it anyway. Remember the lyrics from the Tragically Hip song “Ahead by a Century ~ “No dress rehearsal, this is our life.” Travel as much as possible, whenever you can.  If your funds limit your journey, plan a unique “staycation” or small getaway.
  2. Every choice in life, whether it is about food, lifestyle or our relationships, is either life-enhancing or life-diminishing. Look at the situation and use that template. If you are sleep-walking through life you may not be conscious or aware of your automatic life-diminishing behaviour. Smoking is life-diminishing. If you’ve started, STOP immediately! 100% guaranteed to cause health problems.
  3. There is a Buddhist Philosophy. “Comparing is the root cause of suffering.” Every time you say “I used to…” as in “I used to be thinner, younger, fitter…” you are comparing. Instead look at the current reality and who you are today and either accept or change the situation. Likewise, stop comparing your life to others. Believing their lives are better than yours, leads to misery and envy. Be grateful for your life, which is the shortest path to happiness and peace of mind.
  4. Stop eating crappy food. High sugar, trans-fat, and processed meats. Eat nutrient dense foods, and mostly organic fruits and vegetables. Drink water! You cannot buy your health, and you’re not immortal!
  5. Keep your body fit and strong –- Try weight training, high intensity interval training, Pilates. Get your body moving – even 20 minutes a day will make a difference. You’ll be a lot healthier by 50 and beyond. See a flight of stairs as a fitness opportunity. Seek ways to minimize optional motionless.
  6. “One of these days” is here NOW! Don’t put off your passionate pursuits. Do you want to: write a book? get a second degree or advanced degree? change your career? learn to play a musical instrument? learn to cook gourmet meals? run for public office? Make a plan and get started.
  7. Be generous. Do one small thing that inspires you or touches your spirit or someone else’s. There’s nothing better than paying it forward. (acts of random kindness) Give to others so you feel the goodness that service brings. However you give, do it with your full heart, soul, and effort. Expect nothing in return.
  8. Start saving money, even if it’s just a small amount.  It’s never too early to begin financial planning. Commit to allocating a set amount each month for your future. Even throwing loose change into a jar daily can add up.
  9. How often are you disappointed? Get over it! Are you too attached to life unfolding in a particular way? Let it go. You can only do so much to control a situation. Try saying this, “I want such and such to happen… or the ‘most benevolent outcome.’ We also need to balance this idea with taking responsibility for your own life and fulfillment outcomes.
  10. Do you act too fast when faced with a conundrum? If you leave a decision for a while—instead of making it under pressure—often the situation sorts itself out without intervention. And how you feel about something on day one can be quite different from how you feel on day 4.     Avoid quick judgements based on what might be incorrect information. We often hastily send an emotionally-charged email, text, or make a phone call without sufficient reflection or patience.
  11. Maintain (or repair) relationships with parents and siblings. Even if you have very complicated relationships with them, and sometimes limited or no contact, family ties are extremely important. Soon or later you’ll understand that your family is the most important connection you’ll ever have.      Addendum: Much depends on the circumstances!
  12. Nurture your friendships.  Why text when you can have a live conversation? Here’s a novel idea: buy a birthday card, hand write a message, and mail it to your friend rather than a quick Facebook greeting. They will probably be joyously shocked with your thoughtfulness.
  13. You might not think Aging is relevant to you NOW, however NOW is the time to focus on your health. 70% of how fast we age inside and out is based on our lifestyle, 30% is genetic, and we can even alter our genetic map by making healthy choices. If diabetes or heart disease is part of your family history, staying lean and fit is your best bet.
  14. Get to sleep. We need 7-8 hours of quality uninterrupted sleep. A dark room or sleep shades will block out light. No bright screens before bedtime. A 10 pm lights out with a 6 am wake up is ideal.
  15. Read at least 10 books a year and never stop learning. Take courses; engage your brain to keep your neurons firing.
  16. Learn to meditate and practice mindfulness. Scientific evidence has made the connection between meditation and equanimity.
  17. Belly Breathe! When we are tense, we unconsciously hold our breath or shallow breathe. This triggers the sympathetic nervous system and cortisol, the “flight or fight hormone.” Slow diaphragmatic breathing activates the healing, restorative parasympathetic nervous system. Moving yourself into a healthy parasympathetic state, and staying there as much of the time as possible, helps heal all health conditions, both physical and emotional ones as well. Try 4-7-8 breathing. Take a slow breath in to a count of 4, hold your breath for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts.   Or try this mini relaxation exercise for stress reduction: breathe in and say “I AM,” breathe out and say “At Peace.”
  18. Live in AWE! Notice everything! Clouds, flowers, birds, animals (domestic and wild). We live on a beautiful planet. Be astonished at nature’s force and beauty – sunsets, thunderstorms, rainbows, and snowstorms.
  19. A thought for those who are focused on the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Here is a life-changing quote from the Dali Lama when asked what surprised him the most about humanity,

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”