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Is age truly a number or is it something different entirely?  

Is age truly a number or is it something different entirely?  

Having just turned 50 and totally feeling like I am in my 20s while looking, according to longevity face age technology, like I am in my 30s, I personally had to get to the bottom of this question. 

Over the past year, I have interviewed over 100 different longevity experts, written the best-selling book, the Codes of Longevity, and continue to pore through the research to realize that again and again one key answer keeps popping up. 

What it really means to be an “age” isn’t about good genes, a specific diet, cutting edge therapies, lotions, peptides or supplements, although these all do slow down the aging process.  

Age is experienced, understood, and expressed as a result of our perception. 

A key finding in the largest study to date done by Michigan State University on aging assessed over 1/2 a million people to discover that “our perception of age changes as we age”.     

What you believe and how you perceive yourself, your health and your potential matters! It’s literally the feedback from your brain to your body that plays a key role in either speeding up or slowing down the aging process. 

This is shown again and again in the literature from neuroscience and epigenetics to psychoneuroimmunology that the brain informs, impacts and influences the expression of the cells and your very DNA.  

Have you ever stopped to consider what you perceive about age? 

I remember as a kid seeing the elders in my Italian family at get-togethers as strong, jovial, playful, passionate, and vibrant people. I noticed their beautiful skin, how active they were and decided then and there I was going to age amazingly. 

On the flip side, when I was 35, my mother died of cancer at the young age of 54 and that shifted my belief about what aging might mean for me. 

What do you believe? How do you feel about age, a number, pick a number and consider if there is a person or experience that you can recall that influenced your perception or created a belief inside of you?

You may, like many, think of “youth” as an expression of mental and physical ability fueled by energy, focus, performance, and the capacity to take on whatever comes your way. What do you consider to be “middle-aged” perhaps you think of the body slowing down, weight increasing, energy decreasing, and a mild loss of desire setting in, because “that’s just what happens when we get older”. While “old age” can bring up thoughts of the inevitable breakdown of the body and mind that may one day confine us to a wheelchair or nursing home.  

While yes, there are plenty of examples of this occurring, it doesn’t have to.  

In a study published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, it was found that people who felt younger than their age scored higher on memory tests, rated themselves as healthy, had more grey matter in the brain and were less likely to have symptoms of depression.

You can begin to shift your perception, reconnect to the youthful you, and actually support your brain and body to reverse age by feeling younger. 

Here are a few ways to practice living life optimized at any age and any stage:  

Check your perception.

What you perceive, you believe. What you believe drives your feelings, emotions, habits, and daily actions. If you really want to express enhanced youthful vitality, begin by checking your perception of age. 

  • Ask yourself, what does age mean to me? Consider how or when you decided that and if it is actually what you want to be true for you today. 
  • Check-in daily and notice what age you perceive yourself to be today. If you want to be “younger” what if anything would you need to believe or feel today to make that possible? 

Set an ageless vision. 

Super centenarians hold a similar growth mindset in common. They don’t get fixed or rigid on what was or what is, they are open and look forward to what is coming while appreciating what is here in the now.  They feel like they will live forever but aren’t afraid to die today. They are beyond time and age.  

  • Check-in daily and ask yourself, what am I ready to more fully experience today? 
  • What am I  grateful for today? 
  • What can I look forward to in the days, weeks, and years ahead?  

As you look ahead while appreciating the moment you align with the feelings that energize, excite and engage you to more fully experience and enjoy your life at every age and every stage.

Learn, play and connect.

If your perception of age changes as you change, then how can you support lifelong vitality?  It’s rooted in novelty and growth.  The brain craves new experiences. Seek out opportunities to learn something new, like a game or hobby that you can play and enjoy with others for enhanced connection.  

Live your purpose.  

Purpose ignites all of the following steps. It’s the meaning from within that fuels your desire to learn, grow, connect, engage, laugh, play, and a part of your”why” you want to live a long youthful life.  

  • To connect, simply notice the moments, the people, the places, and things that feel life-giving and soul-filling.  Make more time, enjoy and experience those encounters more frequently for that youthful energy that gives you the capacity to enjoy your amazing life every day regardless of your age. 

Over the past year, I have upgraded my perception, I have challenged my beliefs and I know now with certainty that I can and easily will express boundless vitality, gratitude, and joy each day, every day, regardless of age to 120 and beyond. What are you ready to perceive and believe as possible for you as you feel your way young? 


Dr. Melissa Petersen is the host of the Longevity Summit, Founder of the Human Longevity Institute and Author of the Codes of Longevity. As a sought-out keynote speaker and expert in thriving, she is redefining what is possible in living a thriving life by design at every age and every stage, to learn more, visit: ww.DocMelissa.com

MFN Contributing Author