Despite my 44 years of age, a large part of me feels much younger. I consider my internal age to be somewhere between 18 and 22 years old, and often have fun at cocktail parties asking this question:How old do you feel on the inside as opposed to the outside?When the years have been hard, some of us may look and feel much older than we are. Going to high school reunions is always an adventure when you start to notice who has aged well and who hasn’t.MORE: How To Look Younger in Six WeeksWhat about those individuals who, despite their age, seem to have the heart of a child just waiting to get out at any moment? Their youthful exuberance is infectious—they make us laugh and play and be spontaneous.I want to be like them.Johnny Depp, who turned 49 last week, has a great quote about staying young:“Growing up is unavoidable, but never growing up is possible. I believe you can retain certain things from your childhood if you protect them—certain traits, certain places where you don’t let the world go.”Right on, Johnny!From the guy who played Edward Scissorhands and J.M. Barrie (the writer of “Peter Pan”), the Mad Hatter, Captain Jack Sparrow, and soon to be Tonto, he’s got it. There is something to be said about holding on to the child in us.So how do we do it? How do we look and feel young?Obviously when we look young, a certain part of us may feel that way.QUIZ: Do You Have a Young Lifestyle? But I don’t know if that works for all of us. For those who constantly try to appear youthful, that obsessive search for the right anti-aging procedure and product may not bring them what they are looking for. What it certainly does is put them at odds with a natural process that will occur whether they like it or not.We will get older.For me, it’s the feeling young that counts for something—maybe much more than appearance. There is something special about being around an older individual who still has a young heart. My grandfather was like that. He was always joking—always trying to make others laugh, often to the point of driving his wife (my grandmother) absolutely bonkers! She would constantly say: “Oh Bud!” as he pulled his shenanigans—sticking out his false teeth and making them chatter as my brother and I cheered him on.I still think of him with a smile on my face.Yeah, I want a piece of that—even when the wrinkles come and the joints begin to ache.So here’s my list of things to do to feel young no matter how old you are:
- Laugh often. Laughter is a natural cure for stress and depression. It promotes the release of the body’s natural pain relievers, called endorphins. It can lower blood pressure, protect against heart disease and is just plain fun to do.
- Play often and with children (if you can). Have fun whenever you get the chance. If you have ever hung out with a child and did what they did without worry or concern, you discover that children are the most mindfully present people around. That skill is one to model.
- Stay connected. Recent studies of healthy seniors show that they are surprisingly plugged into popular culture, with nearly a third of them watching a reality TV show, viewing music videos and even playing video games.
- Regularly spend time with people younger than you. Whether you are 50 or 80, I try to spend quality time with folks at least 20 years younger than me. My good friend and mentor, Dr. Andrew Weil, makes it a priority to have guys like me as their buddies. Trust me, it keeps him young!
- Stay physically active. The Harvard Alumni study found that five hours of brisk walking per week was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of death from all causes. Exercise reduces mortality, but it also increases energy, improves sleep, enhances confidence and just plain makes you feel better.