We live in a youth-oriented society, where the fastest growing group, the Baby Boomers, learned, “Never trust anyone over thirty.”

They’ve probably extended that limit by now; I haven’t checked recently to see what it is. 60? 70?

We see ads everywhere for products and services to erase wrinkles, get rid of flab (painlessly and quickly), and make your teeth whiter than nature intended (without giving up coffee or red wine).

So let’s look at a few facts:

Aging starts when you are born. Not at an age you have mentally selected as “over the hill,” but from the start. Change is inevitable; the question is, “What change?”

And more importantly, what determines that change? If you shrug and say, “It’s just my genes. My mother/father was the same,” you aren’t up to date on the latest findings. (Check up on Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief to read the latest research on this topic.)

Would you believe that beliefs are possibly the most important determinant of how you age? Not when you age, but how. So watch what you believe.

Do you believe 50 is over the hill? 60? 70? Oh, well, not until 80? Whatever you believe, you will experience. You will look for signs of aging and because you look, you will find them.

Let’s say you or someone near you has a memory short-circuit. If the person is 18, we say, “how careless.” If the person is 80, we say, “senior moment.”

Do you have some physical problems that get in the way of your full enjoyment of life, and you say, “Well, I’m just getting old?” Perhaps you don’t remember the tragedy (it seemed like a tragedy) of adolescent acne, crooked teeth that needed straightening, or overly-oily hair that wouldn’t behave (but your mother insisted you go to school anyway).

Everyone has physical problems, mental problems, emotional problems, at any and every age. How you explain those problems determines whether you are a problem-solver, dedicated to finding a solution (or at least a way to co-exist with the problem while continuing to pursue your dreams).

Your beliefs will, in turn, guide you to make wise choices in what you eat, what you do, how you organize your day, who you select to share your time and your life. To live a healthy, vigorous life, you must believe that you can make an important difference in what happens to you.

We all know our time on this planet is limited, but finding simplistic solutions to the challenges we face and providing an explanation (“It’s just old age”) that releases us from the responsibility of dealing effectively with those problems doesn’t make that time pleasant. Focusing on pain and loss, not surprisingly, leads to more pain and loss.

Remember when you were told you were too young to do certain things? And how much you resented it, longing for the day when you were old enough? Then, poof, you were old enough, and then, another poof … the culture tells you … you’re too old.

Some people do more than just survive for their time on the planet; they thrive. They participate eagerly in life, continue to grow, invent new dreams when old ones disappear or are realized, and recognize that love and excitement are not limited to a group of people in a certain age bracket.

The French say, “If youth but knew; if old age but could.” Here’s the final secret some of us already know, and here’s what you can learn: you CAN have both wisdom and the ability to fulfill your dreams at the same time.

Use your wisdom to develop beliefs that lead to actions that make your path here a joyful one.