"It's tough getting old!" is a familiar refrain among the Forever Young generation. "What's the world coming to?" is another on the list of growing concerns as we age.
Some of us worry about our future -- healthcare, social security and dementia. Others focus on larger issues -- fiscal cliffs, global warming and terrorism. Many simply long for the good ole days when Life in the Fast Lane was a great lyric, not a description of a race we didn't expect to be running.
These are the concerns facing Baby Boomers as they struggle with the reality of aging in a youth-obsessed culture. Turning 60 myself, I'm not unfamiliar with my generation's worries, nor guilt free when it comes to whining about them. But does all the complaining actually help?
Some believe it can provide a bit of stress relief. Others say it helps them feel less alone. But habitual whining can actually have the opposite effect. Not only does it become boring to the complainer, but it can be irritating to others. How many of us swore we would never be one of those 'Grumpy Old Men (or women!), yet find ourselves heading toward just that?
I suggest "Un-Whining," a new tactic to deal with the urge to complain. It's based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a technique shown effective in undoing maladaptive habits. By challenging the thoughts and feelings attached to dysfunctional behavior, it offers alternatives that can result in more positive reactions.
Keep in mind, this process is not about denying reality or adopting wishful thinking. Nor do I encourage stoicism or martyrdom. In my psychotherapy practice, I urge my patients to speak freely about everything -- while suspending all judgement -- so that we can identify and understand what's on their mind. I tell them that sharing their troubles isn't whining, unless they get stuck and dwell on them. Good therapeutic work is focused on using complaints to learn how to deal with them productively and move forward.
Here are the five steps to un-whining followed by an explanation of the psychology behind this process.
"Something is bothering me and deserves my attention."
To see how this works, let's apply the steps to a common complaint, like "my aching shoulder."
I view chronic complaining as a learned habit. Breaking it (like most maladaptive behaviors) takes practice. "Un-whining' requires repeating these 5 steps over and over in order to develop alternative behavior patterns that are more effective. Once the new habit is formed, it will be reinforced by the positive reaction it evokes. Try it and see.
The good news is that we are all living longer. The not so good news is that longevity brings aches and pains along the way. Let's think of "un-whining" as yet another challenge that our generation can overcome. Sure, complaining can provide us an opportunity to release some negativity. It may even help us feel connected to one another as we share our grievances. But it seems to me that turning complaints into positive actions may serve us all more in the end.
Do you think "un-whining" may be helpful to you and others? If so, pass it forward and tell us how it goes.
Exercising does more than improve your exterior. Several studies have found <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/phys-ed-how-exercising-keeps-your-cells-young/" target="_hplink">an active lifestyle keeps your cells young</a>, according to <em>The New York Times.</em>
These orange veggies are chock full of the phytonutrient alpha-carotene, which <a href="http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-alpha-carotene-112310,0,2855017.story" target="_hplink">lowered the risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular diseases</a> in a study, according to <em>The Los Angeles Times</em>.
Sun worshippers, take heed: Between <a href="http://www.who.int/uv/faq/skincancer/en/index1.html" target="_hplink">two and three million people are diagnosed with skin cancer</a> globally each year, according to the World Health Organization. With May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, <a href="http://www.thirdage.com/skin/skin-cancer-awareness-month">Third Age has tips on how to avoid the "potentially fatal cancer."</a>
A ring-a-ding-ding! Dr. Braverman of <em>The Doctors</em> suggests <a href="http://www.thedoctorstv.com/main/content/Anti_Aging" target="_hplink">having sex at least two times a week to help "reboot the brain</a>."
Studies suggest that foods rich in this fatty acid may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's.
<em>Huff/Post50</em> recently reported on a study that had subjects <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/01/preventing-memory-loss_n_1465789.html?ref=fifty&ir=Fifty&just_reloaded=1">do moderate exercise and use a computer, which resulted in increased memory function</a>.
<a href="http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/quality-life-concierge/2012/apr/16/glutathione-anti-aging-machine/">Glutathione is a rock-star antioxidant found in the body's cells</a> that "neutralizes harmful free radicals," and keeps cells running smoothly, <a href="http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/glutathione-new-supplement-on-block" target="_hplink">according to WebMD</a>. To attain these benefits, eat a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables.
While there are conflicting reports on whether or not pets will add years to your life, it is confirmed that <a href="http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/rethinking-the-value-of-pets/" target="_hplink">pets can ease stress and lower blood pressure</a>, <em>The New York Times</em> reports.
A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but it also "<a href="http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/02/11437/societal-control-sugar-essential-ease-public-health-burden" target="_hplink">changes metabolism, raises blood pressure, critically alters the signaling of hormones and causes significant damage to the liver</a>," according to three doctors at the University of California at San Francisco. In a <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7383/full/482027a.html" target="_hplink">recent issue of Nature</a>, they argued that the health hazards of sugar are similar to those related to drinking too much alcohol.
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