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"Youthen," Don't Age

I’m sure you have heard people talking about how 50 is the new 35, how 65 is the new 50 and so on. We all laugh, but secretly we want to believe that it’s true, that the age we feel we are is a lot younger than the years we have been alive.


Dr. Ronda Beaman believes those statements are true and has written a book to encourage all of us to focus on growing young, not old.


You’re Only Young Twice, 10 Do-Overs to Reawaken Your Spirit was written by the former college professor who is now a widely-recognized expert and speaker, after much research into the science of neoteny.


Neoteny is defined as “the retention of youthful traits into adulthood” or the science of growing young. In other words, we can “youthen” instead of age just like King Arthur said of Merlin. And no, that doesn’t mean you have to relive all the missteps of your youth. Instead, Ronda says, we can take those marvelous qualities we had as children -- and still possess although they can be fairly well hidden --and use them to help us enjoy many fun, creative and challenging years.


Those neotenous characteristics -- and they are probably the same ones that you admire in the young children around you -- are:

1. Resilience

2. Optimism

3. Wonder

4. Curiosity

5. Joy

6. Humor

7. Music (song and dance)

8. Work

9. Play

10. Learning


Of course, it’s easy to see how these traits apply to children, but why can’t they apply to us, too, no matter our age? As adults, we often hold ourselves back from having a good time or seeming frivolous or, God forbid, being embarrassed in front of others. There’s no need for that, Ronda says. These other people are just jealous that they haven’t the guts to join in and have fun. It’s their loss.


There is a do-over in the book for each of these traits to get you started on the path of discovering how young you really are. These interesting techniques are designed to let you get reacquainted with each neotenous trait in your own way.


One example of a do-over is to Create Curiosity by searching for anomalies in everyday life. Through observation and questioning, there’s a lot to be learned about things that most of us don’t even notice: How does the spicy Mexican food you ate for lunch differ from the spicy Thai food you had last week? Why do restaurants serve pickles with sandwiches but not with entrees? Why are there so many drug stores and auto parts stores on one stretch of highway?


These questions are not of the earth-shattering variety, but they will help you increase your curiosity about the world around you, something that we as older adults need to re-cultivate.


Readers are also encouraged to create a Young Twice Chronicle in which they can jot down comments or answers to questions proposed by Ronda in the book.


There is also an OLD survey contained in the book which stands for Outlook, Language and Drives to determine where you are on the spectrum from unusually youthful to needlessly aged. Questions in the survey relate to your Outlook (the attitude, angles, and lens from which you view life); Language (the ways in which you talk about your life and living, and Drives (the energy, vigor and ambition that move your life).


Recently we have been skimming through some old VHS tapes we took of our sons when they were younger. It is amazing to see how much these traits are apparent in our young boys, just as they are in all other children. Filing a ball cap with pebbles over and over again can seem like a fruitless task until you realize that it’s a game, it’s play, it’s learning and it’s fun. Most adults don’t have the patience for that type of repetitive work just to see what happens when you fill the cap up a different way. (By the way, this cap-filling took place in the picnic area of an amusement part, a much cheaper activity than what we had paid for.)


Now I’m not suggesting that you spend your time in the dirt, although it might not be a bad start. I think Ronda would agree. I have a feeling that she would be up for just about anything. That’s the one constant in her book -- her enthusiasm for her subject never wavers. As she says, “I don’t want to be young twice, alone.” Let’s join her.


“You’re Only Young Twice” is available at bookstores and online. For more information, visit http://youngtwice.com/.


By Teresa K. Flatley



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