Secret to eternal youth, Roald Dahl, writer, adventurer, anti-aging hero... despite the smoking

The Secret of Eternal Youth

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl

We live in a world that worships youth not wisdom. People with attractive faces, high breasts (for females!) and dewy skin are favoured over those with wrinkles, drooping appendages and sagging jowls. Youth is worshipped, beauty adored and experience falls by the wayside.

Traditionally “ladies” aren’t supposed to reveal their age. Especially when they’re getting on a bit.

Will you view me differently if I tell you I’m the wrong side of 40 with crow’s feet (ooops, I mean laughter lines) and what my daughter calls a “dimpled” bottom? Will you write me off as a “has been” who’s out of touch with modern life?

I’m pretty sure you won’t ~ what we’re creating here is a community of genuine and deep-thinking individuals who judge people on their values and knowledge, not their looks.

Even though I’m vintage 1968, I think I’ve got a fairly youthful attitude and I think that’s because I’m naturally curious and eager to try new things.

I also made a decision a few years ago not to let the fear of embarrassment, failure or ridicule stop me from doing things I want to do. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I don’t think this attitude gives me a licence to be tragically youthful. For example, there’s a line you have to draw when choosing clothes at my age; the micro-mini skirts and midriff tops I sported in my twenties aren’t being aired much (or ever) these days. Certainly not in public anyway. But with this new attitude I learned to surf at 40 and I actually play at the playground with my kids or on the inflatable obstacle course at the public swimming pool. It’s fun and helps keep me fit too.

So What Is the Secret of Eternal Youth?

Forget expensive wrinkle-busting face creams and life-endangering plastic surgery. They might make you look young but it won’t help what’s going on in the inside.

The secret of staying young is about:

1. Maintaining a youthful attitude;

2. Being curious;

3. Trying new things at any age.

Make sure you don’t get stuck in a routine as you get older or pigeon hole yourself as a certain type of person. When you try new things you’ll be surprised to find that activities you weren’t expecting to enjoy are actually fun.

How to Achieve Eternal Youth: Roald Dahl’s Secret

I’ve written before about how much I love Roald Dahl and his books. His childrens’ classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox, as well as his adult short stories like Tales of the Unexpected are sheer creative genius.

When you read Dahls’ autobiographies, Boy and Going Solo, you start to appreciate his playful mind. Dahl’s outlook on life stayed enquiring and youthful into his old age. He tapped into childlike thinking, mischief, playfulness and pleasures, and carried on writing great books even when he was in his seventies.

Dahl died at the ripe old age of 74, despite his naughty smoking habit, and I love the quote which was inscribed on a rock in his garden. I know it’s at the top of this article but it’s worth rereading:

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

I’m vowing to follow Dahl’s advice for secret youth and:

  • always watch the world with glittering eyes;
  • keep trying to unearth great secrets in unlikely places;
  • believe in the possibility of magic no matter how old and jaded I get.

If anything can keep us staying forever young this will. At least until we keel over from old age after living a life in which we left no stone unturned.

Do you know the Secrets of Eternal Youth? Have you got any tips for staying youthful?

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Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Dickinson January 5, 2010 at 9:11 am

Happy New Year, Annabel.

My favourite Roald Dahl quote is:

“When you grow up and have children of your own do please remember something important…

…a stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY”.

I think that sparkiness is one of the keys to eternal youth – whether you’re a parent, child, blogger or follower.

Have a sparky New Year,

Robin :)

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Brett - DareToExpress.com January 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

Hey Annabel!

It seems that though you equated anti-aging with plastic surgery and face lifts – which are things concerned with the body – yet suggested tips for a youthful mindset. While keeping a fresh, “young” mind is essential for staying “young” (whatever that means – maybe energetic?) I think health and taking proper care of your body is overlooked here. I think most people equate youth with FEELING youthful – that is, feeling physically young.

So, to stay youthful – eat healthy, don’t introduce poisons like unhealthy foods, alcohol, and cigarette smoke, and get plenty of physical activity and sleep each night. That’s the fountain of youth, right there.

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Dave Doolin January 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

“Sparky not stodgy.”

Sounds like a fun pick up line:
“So, tell me, are you sparky… or stodgy?”

I’m going to have some fun with this one.

Thanks!

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Annabel Candy January 5, 2010 at 11:52 am

Robin – Thanks for sharing another Dahl quote. Sparky, zestful, active, engaged – all things parents should be that will keep us from getting too old too soon. Adding staying sparky to my list:)

Brett – Totally agree that staying healthy is important oo. I did mention playing with my kids as a way of keeping fit! Your list looks great and if you can be physically healthy and keep a youthful, curious outlook on life too I think you’ll be on to a winner.

Dave – Good luck with your dating. Hopefully sparks will be flying!

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Fiona Marsden January 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Having reached the big 4-0 recently, I think one of the ‘secrets’ of eternal youth is the confidence that comes with encroaching middle age.

Paradoxically, as your body begins to show some wear and tear, your mind becomes less inclined to indulge in the self-imposed fear of ‘what people will think’ if you do/wear/say such-and-such. I used to snigger at little old ladies who apparently had no sense of style. Now I know that they’re comfortable enough with themselves not to give a flying hoot what anyone else thinks!

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Desertgirl January 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Don’t you love children? “dimpled bottom” indeed! That’s harsh. I suggest disowning the child but that’s also rather harsh and possibly not very ethical behaviour for a parent.

Love your Dahl quote. Both my children read Dahl’s books as youngsters. My son especially loved his works. As do I.

I’m going to try to rise above my chronic illness and see the world with “glittering eyes” from now on. That’s a truly lovely phrase isn’t it? Thank you.

Now, I need to take my own dimpled bottom and go do a few necessary chores. :)

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Gordie January 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

I think if we can stay active and continually explore new areas of life. Keep the mind stimulated is very important. So, it may be good for us to throw out the television. :)

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Jacinta Dean January 5, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Hi Annabel,

Great advice! I am only a couple of years behind you. Vintage 1971. I used to feel a little old, however now with a 2 year old I have to remember to be a kid again! I have been having a blast finger painting, pushing thomas around and splashing in a pool.

I think another way to stay youthful is to play with our children from their point of view and try to see the world how they see it.

Happy 2010!

Jacinta :D

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Annabel Candy January 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Fiona – Yes, I’ve grown more confident as I got older too.

DesertGirl – Yes, the kids do tend to tell it like it is. But I’m sure my bottom’s no that bad. Best viewed in dim lighting maybe… I hope looking through the world with glittering eyes will take your mind off your illness.

Gordie – I think that even if we manage to keep our body healthy and live a long, active life you need the active fun-loving mind to go with it. Yes, and definitely ban the box:)

Jacinta – I do worry that I should be feeling old. I went to an indoor playgrounds for under 10s and had fun on the bouncy castle even though I realised I’m now in the under 50 category. Basically you’ve got to have fun while you can. No matter how hard you work at staying fit and healthy it could all be snatched away from you at any time.

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Cate January 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Hi Annabel… I’m ahead of you by a few years (okay, staring the big 5-0 in the face – not quite yet, but sooner than I was expecting :-) ) and sometimes I do feel old! Playing with our 8 year old is a great remedy. In fact, his arrival in the world 16 years after his older brother was a great way of getting a new perspective on life. Stuff that got in the way of fun just didn’t seem quite so important anymore.

I agree that youthfulness is a state of mind – and keeping healthy is part of that state, so that’s something I’m working on right now.

I’m working on those glittering eyes, too, and can’t wait to find out just what I might see next.

Cheers!

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Annabel Candy January 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Cate – Wow, you’ve got a lot of mothering experience to draw on and it sounds as if your youngest is benefiting from you fun-loving attitude. We should make that our mantra for 2010: glittering eyes:)

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Cate January 5, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I’m with you on that!

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Paul January 6, 2010 at 12:05 am

Annabel, I was only discussing this topic yesterday; while watching “10 years younger.”

The limits people go to to change their exterior; thinking it will make them feel ‘better’ on the inside. I find it quite surprising how they think changing their exterior will suddenly change their life for the better and the language they use.

“I’d like you to meet my new wife”
“This will make me more confident”
“I don’t like my . . .”

What goes on inside their head?

Great post; thank you for sharing

Regards

Paul

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Molly Kelash January 6, 2010 at 3:07 am

Happy New Year, Miss Annabel! I am with you on this, though I won’t give up my face cream ;).
As I’ve gotten wiser with age, I’ve decided that rather than feeling bad about jumping from one passion to another that distracts me for a bit, I’ve decided that is the secret to keeping it fresh — for me. So, I continue to pursue passions that intrigue me and not feel bad about myself when I lose interest. I started playing tennis for the first time on a regular basis two years ago — now I’m playing in a league two levels above where I started. Before that (and I’m not saying I’m done with this at all) it was photography for 2 years and I ended up showing (and selling) my work in a local art gallery. I’d never really tried it before! Guess what I’m saying is, go and do what you want, when you want to (within reason), and see the passion through to the end — you never know where it will take you!

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Oscar - freestyle mind January 6, 2010 at 3:29 am

Hey Annabel, I agree with your post and I enjoyed reading it :)

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Annabel Candy January 6, 2010 at 9:13 am

Paul – So true, even if we looked “perfect” we’d still have our inner issues to deal with.

Molly – Well, I admit I do use the anti-wrinkle creams but not sure how much effect they have. It’s like those people who buy dolls and keep them in their packaging so they don’t get spoilt. My body gets used daily. I hang out in the surf and sun here in Australia, the wrinkle capital of the world, so I’m going to have a lived in look! Love your ideas about following your passions even when they change. Definitely good to get out of ruts and do what pleases you even if it varies from one year to the next!

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Tomas Stonkus January 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

Great thoughts!

Another case of people resisting to natural change in life. Most people grow in size, not in wisdom :)

I love your tips for staying young. If you look at youth that way, then you will realize that so many “young” people are just existing and not growing in wisdom and they are the ones who are truly old.

Hmm….I am happy for you that you have found a unique way of living and not giving in to the accepted views about life and youth and so on.

Best,
Tomas

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Bee January 6, 2010 at 11:00 am

Your anti-ageing hero is smoking! Hehe! Not that you’d ever do anything as silly as that… :)

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Annabel Candy January 6, 2010 at 11:58 am

Tomas – I know there are a lot of young people who are older than they should be. Sad really.

Bee – Can’t believe it’s taken this long for someone to comment on the smoking photo! I did way it was naughty and that he may have lived longer if he’d abstained!

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Eleanor Li January 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I like the secrets. Now i am in middle age, and facing to make my biggest decision. The secret makes me full of confidence.

1. Maintaining a youthful attitude;

2. Being curious;

3. Trying new things at any age.

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QwkDrw January 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

“… a community of genuine and deep-thinking individuals who judge people on their values and knowledge …”.

Quite, an interesting group of commenters. Your practice of analyzing and sincerely (if not humorously) reflecting in reply is surely encouraging to those that seek to give and receive insight.

Personally, I embrace my chronological age — very soon to tick another year. It serves well to explain some lack of enthusiasm for risk and some reliance on a body of work well done. Now remarkably beyond youth, members of my ‘Baby Boomer’ generation in many ways still stand in the shadows of the ‘Greatest Generation’. Ironic

..

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Eric January 19, 2010 at 5:21 am

Hey Annabel. Great tips! I follow the same secrets. Life is too short to worry about pleasing others. Our attitudes are far more important than our looks. One of the great things about having a child is being able to play on playgrounds and play with toys again. I love bouncing on the inflatables, going down the slides, and swinging on the swings with my daughter. It really brings the youthfulness back.

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Debbie @ Happy Maker April 6, 2010 at 3:16 am

Play with your grandchildren very chance you get. This will keep you young and in touch with the world.
Debbie

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Imran Anwar April 20, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Annabel, what a pleasure to get to know you via Twitter and to read this wonderful piece.

I was born in 1962, so am older than you but will give you a run for the money on feeling and behaving immature… ooops, I mean, young! LOL.

Life is too short to feel old. I feel young every day by realizing, today is the rest of the great life ahead of me. I remain humble by remembering to enjoy every day as if it is the last. I remain thankful, even if it is the last day, what an amazing life I have had.

Fondly

Imran
IMRAN.TV

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barbara March 27, 2011 at 1:25 am

I will always be 30 in my mind and heart. As I faced turning 60 last year I started a blog. I wasn’t even thinking at the time it might keep me young. It has.

It’s all about attitude and a willingness to constantly learn new things. In this era of lightning speed technology that will keep you on your toes!
Great post!
b

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se7en September 4, 2011 at 12:22 am

What a totally cool quote I am going to put it in my pocket!!! I think I am much younger than I really am, I can’t believe I am a day over 19 – really!!! And when I see folk that I was at school with I think “My goodness, how did they get so old!!!” I love the whole twinkly eye idea… My kids keep me young. They make me try new stuff ALL the time, just last week they had me riding a bike for the first time in oh about twenty years!!! Don’t believe you “never forget how!!!” it took me quite a while to figure out PEDAL!!! Have a fun weekend!!!

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James Faris November 8, 2012 at 5:58 am

Stay out of the sun.

Have good sex.

Don’t overeat. If you’re full, or even simply satisfied, stop eating.

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