It is not just about diet, it encompasses a whole lot more, shared a 59-year-old advocate of “holistic wealth”.
BY: Perine Seah
What is ageing? What does it mean to you? To me, it is not about a chronological number nor physical degeneration but rather about the mental, emotional and spiritual equilibrium in wellness and growth. These are the areas which are mostly not in alignment and that we could truly have ‘life’ over simply existing or being alive. While recognising the reality of gradual physical degeneration as we advance in age, it is good to develop a decisive mindset to pursue or cultivate an intentional balanced healthy lifestyle progressively.
My philosophy of staying youthful as long as possible was first birthed as early as about 30 years ago when I was in my 20s, which at that time was more about looking good and staying slim. However, that motivation has gradually changed over time to a focus on health motivation, and to look as good when I am in my 50s just as when I was in my 20s.
Hence, my journey began with a diet of intentional choices of healthy natural food and drinks, and abstaining from deep-fried food and sugared carbonated drinks over the past 30 years. I gradually developed a conscientious effort in eating with my mind focused on the nutritional value of food, rather than taste. You would think I would feel deprived but that thought never crossed my mind; I do occasionally partake in the usual local delights during communal gatherings.
However, in recent times I realised that choice of food alone is just one of many parts in cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Stress for a prolonged period has a great adverse effect on our health. Absence of pain or discomfort does not equate to being healthy as diseases develop and erupt over time as accumulated toxicities in our body progress into inflammation, which is the start of all diseases. An important part of managing stress is to allow your body to rejuvenate through a good night’s sleep and regular exercise. Plenty of filtered water intake coupled with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and broths are natural ways of detox and antioxidants. Though as much as I desire to sleep early, I however prioritise my time wisely devoting to work, weekend caregiving of my mother and regular exercise.
Living with a keen sense of curiosity is also what keeps me going. Learning is a life journey involving continual feeding of our minds with reading and experiential learning as well as developing our emotional maturity with our hearts so as to relate to people with care and respect. My life has progressed from a life consumed with career success to now one filled with meaning and purpose.
This can be developed and achieved through giving of our time and financial support to the needy and those marginalised who are trapped in the crack of economic prosperity. I would like to share a contemplative quote by American essayist Henry David Thoreau: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”. And another by motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, Nick Vujicic, that “Attitude is altitude as attitude is everything”. In addition to being a regular donor to some charitable organisations like NKF and Club Rainbow, I used to sponsor four children in the Philippines, South Africa and Mongolia through World Vision for about 20 years. I also used to look after children while their mothers were attending church service, and foreign children while their mothers were attending English lessons. I also helped out in teaching English to foreign workers in their dormitory and bringing the disabled for outings. I have also been involved in urban farming for the past two years in a farm that provides restorative therapy and jobs to the marginalised and those with special needs.
With regular self-reflection, which I do, life challenges are ways of helping us to develop traits of perseverance, gratitude and thankfulness, endurance, forbearance and patience, thereby becoming graceful and compassionate. Learning to forgive is good for our soul and it keeps anger at bay.
We become more youthful within which tends to radiate out … just as inner beauty is true beauty accentuating physical beauty. We can choose an intentionally purposeful life through regular volunteerism, giving our time and talents and making a difference in other people’s lives. That promotes a healthy being in us leading to emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellness.
Many people are trapped in a career cycle at the expense of their well-being and their family life. We need to review our priorities. Jobs will not be for life especially those that are threatened or lost to technology as automation inevitably replaces human labour, but family will be with us for life. That leads to the concept of “holistic wealth” – money is a subset of wealth while the most invaluable assets are time and health as without which money is of little or no value.
Knowledge relevantly acquired is another invaluable and intangible asset, together with emotional intelligence developed over time, that can create a worthy and lasting connection of relationships. Inculcate a sense of curiosity that drives continual learning such as attending courses of interest. Another way is to impart your knowledge by teaching or mentoring others.
I am into my second half of my life which I feel gets better with a wealth of experience personally and professionally from a banker to now, a grandma of three grandsons, a caregiver, an urban farmer, etc. Life gets more exciting as I approach 60 next year as I will be embarking on my first 100km charity trail walk in May 2018 in South Korea. I am also looking forward to be entitled to the PAssion Silver Concession Card next year!
Perine Seah, 59, is an ex-banker and now a strong advocate of “holistic wealth management”.