The answer, it turns out, has much more to do with mindset than with medication. They have the same ups and downs as anyone else, but they do not allow stress to dominate their response to things that happen.
“They don’t live to live long,” he says, “they live day by day.”
Most importantly, they don’t allow stress to dominate their responses and their thinking.
Dr Martinez works is the leader of the Biocogntive Science Institute, which does something much different than modern medicine. Instead of investigating the causes of illness, Dr Martinez investigates the causes of health, especially through cultural contexts.
How Our Cultural Beliefs Affect The Body
If you are out in the cold, and you’re not wearing very much clothing, you might catch pneumonia, according to our cultural beliefs.
But Dr Mario Martinez points out that if you are a Tibetan lama, sitting out on a freezing mountaintop with a very thin robe means something different. Your culture says you’re going to be okay.
Let’s say your culture says that 80 years old is a very old age. If you don’t have any personal beliefs to counter your cultural beliefs, you will feel different at 80, because we all interpret our age through the portal of our culture.
Forgetting something at 75 may not be a big deal. When you pass your 80th birthday, if you say, ‘I’m growing older, this is dementia!’ every time you forget something, that’s going to send cortisol into your body. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is going to affect your memory. Your stress can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“In psychology, attribution is really important,” he says. “We know the mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind. The question most people have unanswered is: how do you affect the mind?”
How does stress affect the aging process?
There are 80,000 centenarians in the US, and they happen to be the fastest growing segment of the population. After researching and interviewing centenarians for years, Dr Martinez wrote ‘The Mind Body Code,’ to help people change the beliefs that limit their longevity, health and success.
When you have stress, he advises, you have to embody the stress. Say to yourself, “This is what I feel, and this is how I’m manifesting it.” And then: “What are the options that I have after this?”
This is a key differentiator between centenarians and their peers who are in the grave. Those living longest look for options. Options move you away from stress.
Stress is a sense of being overwhelmed and not being able to overcome those challenges. The moment that you expand your options, your anxiety goes down, and then you are empowered. Empowerment and stress are incompatible emotions.
Physiologically, stress can reduce the hippocampus, the part of the brain that remembers emotional processes. That’s why when people are participating in the exercises that Dr Martinez has developed to increase your longevity, he asks them to be in a relaxed state of mind, so they can remember the emotions they want to be feeling, the emotions that will help them to live longer.
“I believe that you can learn healthy longevity at any age.”
Secrets of the Centenarians
Dr Martinez has some amazing exercises to pre-set how you will feel when you are older, and overturn your cultural beliefs. His work is a distillation of the secrets of the centenarians.
The exercise below, an excerpt from our recent interview on the Stress Solutions Summit, is an exercise from the Mind-Body Code.
How will your body feel decades from now?
“If you learn it all from the neck up,” he says, “nothing happens.”
Biocognition is not just happy thoughts, and it’s not just wishful thinking. If you have a belief, then you have to follow it with an action that follows that belief. That is what can make things happen.
For instance, here is an action: Don’t ever accept senior citizens discounts. When you do, it says to yourself that getting older is hard and it needs to be rewarded. That money that you are saving, you are going to pay your doctors.
Here’s another action for you: click the button below to watch the interview replay. And then, look at the offer that Dr Martinez has put together, a package of his work at a special discount for Aware Show listeners.
Watch the interview replay below: