Healthy Living

Adaptability: Will You Adapt or Self Destruct?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

adaptability or self destructionIncreasingly, I’m in awe of the amazing ability we have to triumph over change and challenging circumstances.

Some people blame circumstance for their failure. Others cling to old, outdated paradigms until they kill themselves off.

But most people don’t.

Most people know, innately, that if they want to continue to enjoy their families and passions, and to feel their best for as long as possible, they have learn adaptability.

In the mornings I teach English at a senior center to immigrants from Russia and China. In their 60s and 70s, they’ve come to a new country and are learning a new, vastly different language.

Just think: they’ve uprooted themselves, left pets and churches and pensions behind, and gone from being highly-educated members of society to communicating with others at a kindergarten level.

All the while, dealing with the physiological and cognitive trials of old age.

And are they complaining about it? Yes, actually. Every day. But they’re still at it. They’re still coming to class, studying hard, making jokes, helping each other and progressing tremendously.

The Boston University School of Medicine has followed more than 1,600 centenarians in one of the largest centenarian studies in the world, and they’ve found that the fountain of youth is simply an ability to adapt. Not good genes or a blissfully thin medical record, but the ability to roll with the punches.

And in 100 years, centenarians have probably had more than their fair share of punches!

It’s tempting to spend a lot of mental energy thinking about the things holding you back. “If only there weren’t X and Y, I’d have the perfect environment in which I could finally thrive…”

Only the problem is, you’d actually die.

So says Darwin.

To be constantly on your toes, navigating unpredictability and saying goodbye to things you used to have or be able to do, is hard. It can be crazily exhausting.

But it pays off.  You’re still here!

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Chelsea Ratcliff

Chelsea Ratcliff

Writer and expert

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