THE BLOG
05/21/2014 01:41 pm ET Updated Jul 21, 2014

Turning 40: A Mindful Shift in Perspective

There is a point in some women's lives when the mentality changes from wishing we were older, to chasing the fountain of youth. Then a "milestone birthday" like turning 40 arrives and creates an emotional roller coaster. I am sure I am not alone in admitting that I spent more time than necessary in a state of fear, remorse and wondering about which anti-aging beauty products really work.

I am also acutely aware that these feelings were "off message" for a physician and speaker who promotes mindful living. I was having a less-than-mindful moment by allowing my thoughts to be stuck in the past.

Age is a state of mind. If we are always chasing youth, we are stuck in the past. Being stuck in the past only fuels the negative thought patterns that can lead to feelings of hopelessness grief or depression. To be mindful is to be fully in the present moment without attachment.

How can those of us feeling angst about aging shift our perspectives? After self-reflection and extra time on the yoga mat, I realized the way off the roller coaster was not going to be found by hoping for external circumstances to change. The answer was in grounding myself in gratitude. By being present in the current moment, it is easier to be grateful for the blessings that surround us.

Gratitude enhances experience in the present moment in two ways: by increasing the frequency of pleasant experiences and by enhancing the enjoyment of life's positive events. Gratitude increases positive moods because grateful people are more likely to have an appreciation of simple pleasures. Gratitude will also focus one on the benefits they possess and away from the goods or experiences they lack.

I understand now that leading a mindful life isn't about anti-aging measures. I shifted to a healthier state of mind and now give gratitude for knowing how to age well. What is aging well? It is not hiding the wrinkles on our face or in our lives, but rather, it is by focusing on aging with health, vitality and grace.

In the 40 days leading up to my 40th birthday, my gratitude practice helped me to reflect on the mindful living lessons I have learned. I will share the 40 mindful moments that shifted me to back to joy and gratitude for being able to live my life's mission.

PHOTO GALLERIES
40 Mindful Living Lessons Learned Before Turning 40

Romila "Dr. Romie" Mushtaq, MD is a traditionally trained neurologist with expertise in the field of mind-body medicine -- a branch of medicine that promotes the science behind mindfulness based techniques. Dr. Romie helps clients connect to inner peace despite life's external chaos as a physician, professional speaker and certified life coach with her Mindful Living Program.

Dr. Romie writes at www.brainbodybeauty.com, where you can sign up to join her mindful living community and learn how to conquer stress and boost brainpower. You can follow Dr. Romie on Twitter, Facebook and connect with her on LinkedIn. Her guided meditation CD, "Connect To Joy: Guided Meditation to Quiet the Mind" is now available on iTunes.