The essence of Dynamic Aging, and what separates it from all other theories of aging, is its recognition of the Laws of Thermodynamics, and how – in today’s dynamically changing world – an understanding of these laws point us to an entirely new theory of aging; one based on mindful engagement and dynamic change in the last third of life, as opposed to a gradual dis-engagement from the active world and/or continual grasping for stability that is impossible to achieve.
According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, energy can take many forms, but it cannot be created or destroyed. However, it can be converted from one form to another. Energy is generally defined as the “ability to do work,” so in human beings, work can be envisioned as exertion, effort, thought, emotion, action, interaction, and so on. We are constantly converting the “potential energy” of our food and other things we put into our bodies into the “kinetic energy” of thoughts, actions, etc. Without potential energy, and our body’s ability to convert that into kinetic energy, we lose our ability to participate actively in the world – and eventually we die when our bodies can no longer generate the kinetic energy necessary to run our basic human systems (heart, lungs, etc.).
So, if energy cannot be destroyed, why do so many people seem to experience a steady loss of energy as they age?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in a closed or semi-closed system, the future kinetic energy output of the system will always be less than its current levels. In other words, a person’s basic energy levels will decline over time due to a process called “entropy.”
Entropy explains that – in the process of transferring energy from one form to another (potential to kinetic), a certain amount of energy will dissipate (be dispersed into the environment) and we can only replace that energy by becoming an open system and absorbing new energy from our environment. So, in the case of human beings, we re-charge ourselves by taking in food, water, and other nourishment from the outside, and convert it into the kinetic energy we use to run our bodily systems and do the things we do. However, as we age, an increasingly greater portion of our potential energy will dissipate through this process, as our cells slowly go through their own process of entropy and lose the ability to efficiently convert potential into kinetic energy. This means that as we age, we need to be taking in an increasing amount of potential energy from the outside simply to maintain our current levels of kinetic energy.
Food and vitamins cannot do it all. Our bodies only have the ability to convert a certain amount of these types of potential energy sources into kinetic energy. If we try to eat more to offset the effects of age-related decline, we will just get fat and stress other body systems to the point where they require more energy to function – merely worsening the situation. So, in order to offset the effects of age-related decline (or human entropy), we must increasingly find other ways to obtain potential energy from our environments.
While most aging theories today understand the importance of exercise, nutrition, relationships, pleasurable activities, and lifelong learning – Dynamic Aging recognizes that humans can also increase their potential energy levels through a vibrant and mindful engagement with their environment. This involves interacting more frequently and in a higher quality manner with new people, ideas, and ways of doing things. We can all recognize times when we walked away from a stimulating discussion feeling uplifted or energized, or had a challenging project we couldn’t wait to start working on. These types of interactions – which can usually be described as new, fresh, stimulating, exciting, different, emotional, creative, challenging, transformational, flow, etc. – all contribute to a person’s potential energy levels, which can then be converted to the kinetic energy we use to run our lives.
Unlike other theories of aging, Dynamic Aging believes that a person who continues to change, grow, develop, expand beyond his or her current capabilities, and harvest new energy from a mindful and engaged interaction with their environment, will be better able to postpone the age-related decline associated with human entropy – as compared to someone who does none of these things.
Medical science will, on the average, keep us alive a lot longer than our parents or grandparents. So, we have much more to lose by allowing this gradual physical and cognitive slide to occur pre-maturely. If we do nothing, our energy levels will slowly decline over the last third of life, and so will our quality of life. The alternative is to maintain as high a quality of life as we can during these extra years, but in order to do this we must proactively seek out new sources of energy in order to stave off age-related decline. Dynamic Aging is the process by which this can be accomplished most effectively.
Dynamic Aging is not the “silver bullet” most people are looking for. We will all eventually die, so our goal should not be immortality. Instead we should have the more modest goal of maintaining as high a quality of life as possible – for as long as possible. However, instead of this goal requiring that we expend more energy in its pursuit, a mindful engagement with our environment can actually give us more energy to do all those other things we want to do as well. In other words, in order to age optimally we must become an interactive player in the dynamically changing world around us. We must become a dynamic system ourselves.
That is it for now,