I USED to take pride in how I do well, and get my "highs" from multi-tasking. The more I accomplish in a day, the better I feel about myself. I was "Type A" personality, and really delight in describing myself "busy, busy" when friends and associates asked me how I was. Well, this seemingly worked well, and yes, I accomplished a lot, wrote numerous published articles in professional journals (local and international), and has a number of books published (two by the University of the Philippines Press).

By the world's standard, I was a "success," but inside, I had an insatiable desire for more, the lingering question, "Is this all there is to life -- travel twice a year to attend international congress, monthly meetings in the big capital or elsewhere, endless running after deadlines, pressure after pressure, stress, conflicting feelings between career and family life.

Thank God, I had a wake-up call in my early 50s whence I started feeling chronically depressed, and began turning inward. What really helped was a month-long Life Revision-Christian Living seminar with Dr. Hans Burki, a Swiss counselor (former General Secretary of Fellowship of Evangelical Students) in a scenic mountain retreat, an old castle in Rasa, Switzerland.

Dr. Burki ushered me into inner quietness, the practice of Christian meditation that has become part of my daily life. Truth to tell, it took time for me to imbibe "Being Still" in God's presence, but daily practice and persistence won the day. Christian meditation is one of my secrets to having inner peace, "one that passes all understanding" as Jesus described it, and keeping my mind sharp, way into my 60s.

But what about "senior moments?" Maybe you've gone into your bedroom and can't remember why, or can't recall a familiar name during a conversation. Memory lapses can occur at any age, but aging alone is generally not a cause of cognitive decline. By age 60 nearly half of adults worry about their memory, experts say however that minor memory lapses that occur with age are not usually signs of a serious problem, such as Alzheimer's disease -- it is more the result of normal changes in the structure and function of the brain.

Studies have shown that you can help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia with some basic good health habits that I have written about in this column:

* Staying physically active

* Getting enough sleep

* Not smoking

* Having good social connections

* Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day

* Eating a Mediterranean style-like diet (meals of fish, nuts, green leafy veggies, olive oil, bell peppers and mushroom).

Memory and other cognitive changes are inevitable with aging, but the good news is thanks to long years of research, we can learn how to get our mind active. In my succeeding column, I will share various tested strategies we can use to help maintain cognitive fitness.