In Michael Pollan’s latest book How To Change Your Mind he suggests that as people grow older the magic of the world goes away. Things feel more tedious. Our brains get used to the patterns we see around us. The joy of life can fade. And for this reason, Pollan suggests psychedelics as an antidote.
Well, we won’t judge you if you try psychedelics as a way to invigorate your later life, but there are lots of other ways. Here’s a list of 15 simple hacks that can make a big difference.
- Develop a new skill each year. New skills have a way of keeping the brain young and fresh. Consider things like woodworking or knitting.
- Challenge your body. One theory of aging is that it a lot of it has to do with disuse. Use it or lose it. The body is a machine that adapts to the stresses you put on it. So don’t be afraid to lift some weights and tone that body up. You’ll feel better too.
- Choose An Adventure. Find an adventure to go on every three months. New places to travel, hike or simply hang out with new people will create a sparkle in your life.
- Explore Nutrition. Most health professionals agree: there is no single right way to eat, though some ways are better than others. Learn to listen to your body and give it the nutrition it needs. Try a vegetarian diet for one week. A carnivore diet the next. A gluten free the next. And maybe a Whole 30 the week after that. Journal your results and see which make you feel the best. When you find the right food to put in your body, it can give you a new lease on life.
- Fix Your Sleep. Your overall mood and enthusiasm for life is largely dictated by the amount of restful sleep you get. Many modern people are overstressed and under rested. Focus on ways to improve your sleep. Whether that’s taking an epsom salt bath before bed, doing sleep hypnosis or taking a naturally calming sleep pill.
- Go To College. While a college education isn’t for everyone, it has become a popular way to reorient your life and gain new expertise and new opportunities. Whether it’s just auditing some courses or going all in for a full degree program, college can challenge you, stimulate you and give you a strong sense of purpose.
- Meet New Friends. Loneliness is a common source of depression in later life and it can result in bad health. Make sure to keep your social life active and social network strong. Intentionally seek out new opportunities to meet people with similar interests.
- Study Spirituality. Ancient religious traditions have a lot to offer in terms of getting grounded and finding inner peace. Instead of just focusing on the dogma and beliefs of religion, consider focusing instead on the practices (meditation, prayer, fasting) which were often designed to improve human life.
- Meditate. Speaking of religious practices, meditation has a way of calming the body and creating a sense of thankfulness. Start with only 10 minutes of day and focus your brain on all that you are thankful for. Then look up other meditation ideas on the web.
- Try Intermittent Fasting. One of the best tools we have for looking and feeling younger is, surprisingly, intermittent fasting. Aim for 16 hours from after dinner until your first meal the next day. The body has a natural cleansing and recycling system that will only happen when we are in a fasted state. Since many of us are never in a truly fasted state, the junk in our bodies builds up and never gets properly disposed.
- Saunas and Steam Rooms. Saunas and/or steam rooms feel good but they also put a healthy, short term stress on your body called thermic conditioning. Your body adapts to this stress by improving red blood cell count, insulin sensitivity, growth hormone, blood flow, endurance capacity, and lower heart rate. Plus it just feels good.
- Read a Book a Week. Reading keeps the mind active and engaged. It exposes us to new worlds. If a book is boring you, don’t be afraid to put it down and start a new one. Many of the most voracious readers in the world will be reading multiple books at once. Go back and forth between fiction and non-fiction or always have one of each in the kitty.
- Volunteer and Give Back. Try a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly in a nursing home or organizing a charity event. Doing things for others offers a type of joy that we can’t experience when we make life all about ourselves. Of course we want to do things for ourselves and maximize our own happiness. But reality has nicely rewarded us with the opportunity to find maximum happiness when we enjoy helping others.
- A Daily Word of Kindness. Compliment one person a day. You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel and how it will make the other person’s day. Of course, the compliments should not be forced. They should fit and come naturally. Give it a try.
- Improve the Simple Things. As we get older, it’s common to care more about the simple things in life. The things we encounter daily. A good night sleep. Spending more time with our children or grandkids. Comfortable slippers. A soft bath towel. Getting a nap. Tweaking the things you do daily so that they are more satisfying will get you the biggest bang for your buck. Think about one simple thing each week that you’d like to improve in your daily life, and make it a reality.
That wraps up our list of 15 hacks to improve your life as an adult. We hope you find something useful!