Now, we understand you might be skeptical. The internet is littered with time-sucking, energy-wasting quizzes that will happily tell you what kind of animal you are, or what Disney character, or even which Friends character you are. You can even find out which actor will play you in the story of your life.
Personally, I am way too busy to be bothered with such nonsense, which is why it saddens me to admit that I am a dolphin, Simba, and Ross Geller. I also have it on good authority that Joseph Gordon Levit will play me in the movie on my life. I was pushing for Matt Damon, but I guess he wasn’t available, no matter how many times I took the quiz.
But enough with that, it’s time to take our pseudo-scientific, explosively charged quiz. It’s backed up by years (hours) of research, gratefully sponsored and promoted by the Get Buzzed Institute for a Better Second Half of Life, the think-tank arm of the Oxygen Buzz Empire.
Now when it comes to determining age, researchers will invariably use some algorithm that measures amount of exercise, quantity of friends, social engagement, whether you’re married, divorced, or widowed; have a pet, eat greens and vegetables, get enough sleep, give back, have sex, practice mindfulness.
Our Oxygen Buzz test is different. It looks at how you respond to the world around you. There will be no questions about fruits and vegetables or hours spent at the gym (we’ll save that for another day). In fact, there are only three simple questions.
For each question, you will rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the lowest, 10 being the highest. If you understand this, give yourself 2 points. And no cheating off your neighbor’s paper.
Question #1: How much time do you spend waiting for the shoe to drop?
You know the Earth is slowly burning up, right? It’s a scientific fact. Look it up. In a short billion years from now, the heat from the Sun will be so intense that the Earth as we know it will be gone forever. It’ll take another 7 billion years for the Sun to actually expand to the point that it engulfs the Earth and destroys the entire planet. But, mark my words, that day is coming. Get your affairs in order, my friends. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Of course, you don’t need global warming to start pulling out your hair with all the things that could wrong in the world. You also have tornadoes, earthquakes, and fires, rogue nations and economic collapse, moles on the arm, pimples on the nose, and unusual phlegm. There are all sorts of reasons to stay in bed, pull the sheets over your head and become the person who always asks, “What could go wrong next?” It’s called waiting for the shoe to drop. And while it can strike at any age, we become much more susceptible the older we get.
Wait long enough for the shoe to drop and eventually you start looking for shoes everywhere, and once you start looking, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up living in a shoe store, with all the joy and life sucked right out of your bones. Now, with that cheery thought, ask yourself:
On a scale of 1-10, how much time do you spend waiting for the shoe to drop?
1 being you’re always carrying an umbrella (worrying all the time).
10 being you’re always barefoot (very little worrying).
Improving that number: There’s only one way to stop waiting for the shoe to drop: you have to flip the script and start waiting for good things to happen, which can only occur if you recognize the good things that are already here. Sometimes you have to dig deep in the closet to find them, but they’re around, and the more you have to hunt for them, the keener your eyesight will become at finding the hidden gems the world has to offer. After all, if you’re going to spend your time obsessing, why not spend it obsessing on all the things that can—and do—go right. It takes practice, but it’s a skill worth cultivating.
Question #2: How flexible are you?
Think flexibility and you probably think range of motion, or how well you bend to tie your shoes, get off the couch, or do the splits. And, of course, physical flexibility is a non-negotiable ingredient for aging well, but right now we’re talking about flexibility of mind, heart, and spirit. Over 2,500 years ago, Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, said, “The only constant in life is change.” Heraclitus was a stand-up guy and honorably died to prove his point. Of course, his point was not just about accepting death, but the transitory nature of living. His message was adapt and accept change—or as every philosopher has said after him—become like the tree which must sway with the wind to keep from snapping.
So, just how flexible are you? Can you change your mind freely, meet others half-way, shift gears, and entertain new ideas? And how are you with ambiguity and spontaneity? Do you let things go easily or do you need to control them? And how well do you respond to changing environments? Conflict? Chaos? Challenge?
Inflexibility is not just rigidity in thought, it’s a hardening of the spirit, which leads to frustration, irritation, anger, disappointment, and loss of joy. Live in this space long enough and, eventually, you’ll turn off the lights and hang a “closed for business” sign on your chest.
On a scale of 1-10, how flexible are you?
1 being you’re stuck in quicksand (very inflexible).
10 being you’re Gumby (a double-jointed Olympiad).
Improving that number: Cultivate flexibility as a skill to nurture and develop. Be honest with yourself and take note of all your rigid behaviors, then seek out and embrace opportunities to stretch and open your mind. Become curious. Find more reasons to say yes. And while you should stay firm in your convictions, do so with an acceptance of other people’s ideas and opinions. Relax and loosen your grip on life, your expectations for others, and yourself.
And remember, with flexibility comes flow and with flow comes resilience, which is the Excalibur sword for those who turn age into art. Resilience is our ability to adapt nobly in the face of adversity, stress, and changing environments. But let’s be clear, resilience is not just about bouncing back, but bouncing back strong and with grace, gratitude and new-found awareness.
Question #3: How offended are you by life?
Want to know what’s more dangerous to your health than smoking a carton of cigarettes every day? It’s constantly being offended. It is a dangerous virus, my friends. And while the virus symptoms may begin simply as hurt feelings, they can easily escalate to indignation, irritability, grumpiness and an all-around allergic reaction to anyone who says or does something we don’t like. Being offended compromises our whole “happiness immune system.” It turns us into curmudgeons. It also makes us age in dog years.
So, just how offended are you by life?
And let’s be honest. We all get offended. We get offended by a roll of the eye or a shake of the head, as quickly as we get offended when we’re unappreciated or taken for granted. We get offended when someone cuts us off on the road, jumps in front of us at the market, or doesn’t say thank you when we think they should.
We get offended when someone puts us on hold, won’t smile, open the door, or offer their seat. We get offended by parents who can’t control their kids in restaurants, friends who don’t invite us to parties, neighbors who refuse to pick up after their dog’s mess. We get offended by this network or that network, someone taking a kneel or not taking a kneel. There is something for everybody. And it’s only getting worse.
Of course, it’s easy to mistake our indignation for action, thinking that being offended makes us more empathetic and caring, as if being upset by people who don’t recycle makes us pillars of the community. But the truth is, we’re not helping the world one bit by being offended.
I get offended at texting drivers—the idea of someone putting my family at risk. And while it’s true that it’s dangerous, my stink eye across the freeway isn’t going to save hundreds of lives, any more than being offended at the guy who lets his dog poop all over someone else’s lawn will do anything to beautify my own. Being offended without action does nothing to make the world a better place. It only raises our blood pressure and makes us agitated and old.
If we’re offended by something, we should do something about it. Talk to the person who offended us, deal with the issue, elicit change. If I really wanted to do something about drivers who text, I should call my congressman, rally the troops, and march to City Hall. But, I don’t, choosing instead to stew in my outrage, which does nothing but make me boil until I’m well-done, and all the flavor and tenderness of life has been cooked right out of me.
So, it’s time to fess up. And be honest.
On a scale of 1-10, how offended are you by life?
1 being you’re sulking right now (always offended)
10 being you’re like water off a duck’s back (never offended).
Improving that number: Choose from this moment forward to not spend one more ounce of energy on what you can’t change. Change only the things you can—starting with your own peace of mind. Breathe, open your heart, and let it all go.
And instead of always looking for what people are doing to us, let’s start looking for all the things people are doing for us. We could thank the neighbor’s dog for fertilizing our lawn, or the slow driver ahead of us for making us stop rushing. We could thank the texting driver for making us put our cell phones down. In fact, we could thank all those individuals who offend us for helping us become stronger, happier and more content. Do this and the things that once irritated us will now become our teachers, guiding us towards peace and a more youthful second half of life.
So, now the results…just how old are you?
Well, look at your driver’s license. That will tell you exactly how old you are. I hope you weren’t thinking that number was going to change, like 70 was going to suddenly become the new 50. It doesn’t work that way. 50 is the new 50 and 80 is the new 80. If you were born in 1959, you’re 59 or you will be soon. End of story.
However, the real question is how well are you aging? Are you living older than your years? Is your spirit decaying faster than your body? These are the questions that will determine the quality of the second half of life.
So without any further ado, here’s how to calculate how well you’re aging:
Look at the three scores you gave yourself for each question.
For every score of 1, add 6 years to your life.
For every score of 2, add 5 years.
For every score of 3, add 4 years.
For every score of 4, add 3 years.
For every score of 5, add 2 years.
For every score of 6, add 0 years.
For every score of 7, subtract 2 years.
For every score of 8, subtract 3 years.
For every score of 9, subtract 5 years.
For every score of 10, subtract 7 years.
And that’s how well you’re aging. You might want to take the number to your doctor. They’ll probably want to put it in your charts. And if your number is making you feel a bit depressed or confused, remember, we made this up over margaritas.
Besides, it doesn’t matter where you are. It matters where you’re headed. Unlike the age on your driver’s license, there’s always something we can do about how well we age. We can always learn to age better. Maybe not with skin and bones, but with heart and spirit. And it is in this place where we can stay young forever.
What’s that you say? You haven’t joined our community at Oxygen Buzz? We’re taking a deep breath and doing our best not to be offended. However, we will remain enthusiastically optimistic that you will join us for our collective journey to turn age into art. Click here to be added to our list (if you’re not already), or use the link below.