©Arlene R. Taylor, PhD
- I acknowledge I have developed some unhelpful habits that have resulted in a variety of undesirable outcomes. As such, my life has become unmanageable and my health is suffering. I experience difficulty in selecting quality, nutritious foods and in maintaining an optimum weight. I tend to overeat and be too sedentary, which has increased my risk for illness and chronic diseases (e.g., type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia), and have even placed my potential longevity at risk.
- I believe a Higher Power (as I understand a Higher Power) can place resources in my path to help me create, implement, and maintain a Longevity Lifestyle successfully. I know it is my responsibility to identify and embrace these resources, using them to increase my knowledge, insight, creativity, and determination. I understand that while others can support and encourage me, I am responsible for the thoughts I maintain, the feelings I hang onto, the actions I take, and the behaviors I choose to exhibit.
- I ask for clarity of vision as I embark on this journey to select and implement healthier behaviors, for wisdom to make positive choices, for willpower to help me follow through on the healthier replacement behaviors I have selected. I realize there are no magic options, quick fixes, or instant solutions and that slow and steady wins this type of race. I am becoming more patient and learning to delay immediate gratification. When I make a mistake, because I am human, I acknowledge it, learn from it, forgive myself, and get right back on track.
- I am entirely ready to create and implement a Longevity Lifestyle that includes healthier replacement behaviors (even though some of my old unhealthy behaviors helped me feel better for short periods of time because they triggered my brain’s reward system and altered neurotransmitter and hormone ratios). I have a growth mindset, a can-do attitude, and practice positive self-talk. I speak affirmingly to myself, using my name and the pronoun you. I recognize when my brain has downshifted and have at least two strategies to help me upshift quickly.
- I am open to increased understanding and to opportunities as they present themselves. Rather than wasting time pounding my head on closed doors or giving up and returning to unhealthy habits, I look for the doors that are open and grasp those opportunities. I understand the difference between simple and easy, knowing that a Longevity Lifestyle is relatively simple, although not always easy to implement and maintain. I have removed foods, beverages, snacks, and anything else from my environment that I no longer choose to use and that would make it easier for me to slip back into old habits.
- I take personal responsibility for my behaviors and for my contribution to situations of conflict and misunderstanding—especially those that involve JOT behaviors: jumping to conclusions, overreacting, and taking things personally. I refrain from wasting time and energy in whining, complaining, and blaming myself or others, knowing that most people do the best they can at the time with what they know, myself included. Honing my spirituality and an ability to experience a sense of awe has helped me respond with kindness to myself and others, while my boundaries help protect me as needed. I am brave enough to let go to those who abuse me or pull me down.
- I engage in family-of-origin work to identify both genetic and epigenetic factors that have contributed to my unhealthy lifestyle. I also recognize, and gratefully acknowledge, the helpful patterns that came to me through my generational inheritance. I am evaluating and reworking the script handed to me at birth so it better matches me and a Longevity Lifestyle. I am proactive in recognizing myths, negative mindsets, and traps—in a timely manner—that in the past could and would have derailed me from my chosen path. I know I cannot change the past and that ‘what-if’ and ‘if-only’ are unhelpful. However, I can create a better future for myself and I am doing that.
- Although I am cognizant of both the past and my specific plans for the future, I strive to live in the present moment, mindfully aware of my thought patterns and choices. I am learning to identify the four core emotions and am committed to utilizing them appropriately. I understand that feelings follow thoughts and am learning how to change my thoughts to change my feelings. I take time for myself to reflect on my journey, identifying what is working well and what I need to restructure in order to help me be more successful. I practice healthy selfishness and take good care of myself so I can give to others from a full and overflowing cup.
- I am making a list of individuals I have harmed (including myself) because of unhealthy habits and choices. When possible, I make amends, except when to do so would be injurious. I select carefully the individuals in my supportive network, knowing that close association increases my risk of picking up their habits. I am raising my level of Emotional Intelligence to increase my success in life. I practice gratitude on a daily basis, knowing that fear and gratitude cannot co-exist simultaneously in my brain. An attitude of gratitude and thankfulness helps me to delay gratification and makes it easier for my brain and body to function in balance.
- I practice mindful awareness and am diligent on a daily basis, taking personal inventory of my behaviors, evaluating their outcomes as either negative and undesirable or positive and desirable. I make decisions with an eye to their potential impact on my future. I promptly admit when I have made a mistake and immediately take steps to course correct. I smile and laugh often, being serious about life, but purposing to avoid taking its vagaries too seriously. This helps me manage stressors more effectively. I understand that what happens to me matters less than what I think about the events and the importance I place upon them. I live the 20:80 rule and concentrate on the eighty percent about which I can do something—if only to manage my attitude and responses.
- I seek, through contemplative meditation or prayer (a form of meditation), to improve my conscious awareness, to gain wisdom and energy, and to make healthier choices. I choose to adopt a Longevity Lifestyle. Using the basic principles it outlines, I select and practically apply options and alternatives that work for my brain and body. I am grateful to be alive and to have the opportunity of living younger longer (many others have not had that opportunity). My attitude is more positive and I no longer fear getting older, knowing that seventy percent of how long and how well I live is in my hands.
- I share my experience with others, as appropriate, encouraging them in their quest for health and longevity, even as I consistently practice and exhibit these principles in my life on a daily basis. I realize that as my brain and body improve, role-modeling is the most effective way to pass along what I am learning. I enjoy and am grateful for this new way of thinking and living. I rejoice as I experience improvements in my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I am feeling better, looking better, and thinking more clearly. Life is good.
(Patterned loosely after The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous)