Image for Think and Grow Young!  HOW A COW HELPS ME GROW YOUNGER

by Ellen Wood

Sometimes it’s the little things that make life so wonderful, and sometimes they might be as big as a cow! That happens to be true for me. There is a cow in my life and she brings me and others much joy and delight.

What does a cow have to do with growing younger? One of my daily anti-aging action steps is to do something silly or fun or spontaneous ─something that makes me feel good — better yet, something that makes me laugh. And my cow makes me laugh!

I think the most underrated aspect of staying youthful is laughing. Laughing rejuvenates our cells. In fact, a regular 20-minute laughter session can profoundly influence our health and wellbeing. When we laugh, our bodies release hormones and chemicals that have startlingly positive effects on our minds and bodies.

There’s a website called Laughter Yoga with videos about laughing for good health.

How did I get a cow that makes me laugh? One day seven years ago I thought to myself: I need a cow in my sagebrush. There’s sagebrush everywhere you look outside my house plus mountains and a few pinion pines. I felt a cow would look great in the sagebrush — for the absurdity of it —not a real cow, but a life-sized one that looks real.

I went looking for a life-size fiberglass cow for my New Mexico plot of land. And I found her, in New Jersey. I had her shipped to my home and named her Elsie. She’s black and white, unlike the REAL cows around here, and I had her placed at just the right spot near my driveway.

As you approach my house, the driveway makes a sharp turn to the right and the pinion trees hide the rest of the driveway. When you make the turn — surprise — there’s Elsie! Her body faces south but her head looks east at the approaching car, as though, startled, she looked up. Everyone who comes to visit thinks she’s real at first glance. And they enjoy the absurdity too!

How does Elsie make me laugh? If the sun is about to set and I haven’t done something silly or fun or spontaneous that day, I walk out to my cow halfway down the driveway and moo. Yes, I moo! Silly, right? It makes me laugh so I guess that’s pretty silly. (I figure when she moos back, maybe I’ll start to worry.)

You may not have a life size cow that’s not real, so here’s another idea for being silly. Free that inner child: stand out in the rain and open your mouth. Don’t care what people think; invite them to join you. It’s making you younger. Or turn on the music and dance with the broom. It takes only a minute or so to do something silly or fun each day, but if you’re not in the mood, at least do something spontaneous. Here are some ways: You could say to someone, “Let’s go to the movies tonight.” Or “C’mon over and let’s lie naked in front of the fireplace.” That’ll get their attention even if you intend to keep your clothes on. Or give someone a hug when they least expect it.

Flexibility is another of the secrets of growing younger. Being spontaneous helps you stay flexible — instead of being rigid which is often associated with old age.

Do something different. Eat pizza for breakfast. Well…maybe not pizza but you get what I mean. Think about it. Do you know someone who’s set in their ways — not just getting older but growing old and rigid, and eating oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal every morning?

And you’re afraid to ask them how they are because you might get an organ recital?

Decide that that’s not who you intend to emulate. Be spontaneous. Be silly. Be different. Do something absurd. Paint your toenails green! Okay, so you don’t want to do that, but find a way out of your set ways. Maybe go to a girlie movie and let yourself cry at the sad parts.

You know, that shop in New Jersey also had a life-sized pig. I wonder….

Ellen Wood of Taos NM is a speaker and award-winning author of Think and Grow Young: Powerful Steps to Create a Life of Joy., <>