How to Stop Bad Habits from Aging You 12 Years

Recently, a new report came out in the Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine that stated that engaging in bad habits such as excessive drinking (more than 3 drinks/day), smoking, not exercising (2 hours/week) or eating our veggies and fruit can age us by 12 years. Well, it’s not really news that being unkind to our bodies over time can lead to an unhealthy state. However, here is a little anecdote that is interesting and might explain how it we can seem aged by 12 years.

Read over the following progression from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook a couple of times and take a moment to reflect on it:

1. Intention shapes our thoughts and words.

2. Thoughts and words mold our actions.

3. Thoughts, words, and actions shape our behaviors.

4. Behaviors sculpt our bodily expressions.

5. Bodily expressions fashion our character.

6. Our character hardens into what we look like.

You may be familiar with this line of thinking in the form of the saying that by the time people turn fifty, they get the face they deserve. In either case, this is an interesting insight into one of the many ways the mind directly affects the body.

And this goes on in a loop, meaning that a sluggish unhealthy body goes on to shape our mood and how we feel about ourselves and others around us. Procrastination can be a major issue.

Yes there is the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. However, when is the last time you gave more than cursory reflections on your intentions? Intentions are not meant to just be made on New Years or Birthdays. It’s important to re-mind ourselves of our intentions every day. Why?

It’s too easy to get drawn into the gravity of our environments, which reinforces sliding back into unhealthy habits that will eventually give us the “face we deserve.”

Here’s how to bring some mindfulness to this:

In considering this report and anecdote above, allow this to be a moment where to reflect on your intentions  — just for today  — in respect to being healthy. Bring yourself through the process of your intentions becoming words, then actions and notice what happens to your body and mind when performing those actions.

Lao Tzu said, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” Choose one thing today to be mindful of in respect to your health and well-being. Then re-mind yourself of the intention again tomorrow.

What’s it going to be for today?

As always, please share what comes up for you in respect to this practice. Your interaction below provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

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