Have you ever wondered what differentiates those who stay healthy and engaged well into their 80s or even their 90s as opposed to those who don’t?

If you want to have a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life, take a few hints from some people who have managed to do it.

I recently had a conversation with fellow real estate coach Joeann Fossland about a session she will be doing for our Awesome Females in Real Estate group called “Being Beautiful at Any Age.”

As we were chatting about the session, she shared an interesting conversation that she had with one of her coaching clients. She was having some issues with her back and she flinched when she moved. Her client asked her, “Do you have arthritis?”

After careful thought, Joeann responded by saying, “Having arthritis sounds like something is broken and that it can’t be fixed. I prefer to think that there are some days when I have some pain and other days when I don’t.”

She then shared another story about a speaker who had been told he would need knee surgery. He was a runner and refused to stop running. Each time he ran, he kept telling himself that the pain he was experiencing was his body healing itself. Several months later when he went in for another MRI, and his knee had healed.

Joeann’s stories illustrate the power our words and minds have over our physical being. Psychologists describe this phenomenon as “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In other words, what you expect to happen will happen. For example, if your partner comes down with a cold and you tell yourself, “Great, now I’m going to be sick,” that’s usually exactly what will happen.

When I was teaching college full time, I had a number of colleagues who were in their 70s and a few even in their 80s. Most were pretty healthy and engaged in having a full life both inside and outside of the classroom. What struck me about my colleagues was that I have virtually no recollection of anyone having the “aches and pains” conversation.

Here’s another example. When my 95-year-old uncle was in his late 80s, he was up on the roof with one of his grandsons doing repairs. He fell and broke his hip. When the doctor suggested that he be in a wheelchair as part of the healing process, his comment was, “Wheelchairs are for old people.”

As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed an increasing number of my younger friends (often in their 40s) making their aches and pains the primary focus of every one of their conversations. It’s no wonder many young people flee from those who are older. Who wants to listen to a group of people comparing their aches, pains, surgeries and doctor’s visits?

So what steps do you need to take to be happier and healthier? Here are five important ones:

1. Control self-talk

The first step in staying healthy is to control your personal self-talk. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with you, focus on what’s right. If something is wrong, see your health care professional and do something about it. Do your best to avoid making any type of illness the primary focus of any conversation. Most people have as many, if not more, troubles as you have. Avoid adding to their load with your issues.

2. Control your environment

The second step is to control your environment. The late architect Buckminster Fuller once said, “Environment is stronger than will.” In other words, the environment in which you place yourself will win when there is a conflict between your environment and your willpower. To illustrate this point, a recent study showed that if your best friend becomes obese, there is a 54 percent chance that you will become obese.

Consequently, choose wisely in terms of how and where you spend your time. Avoid people who are focused on their illnesses; their mental state of mind can be infinitely more dangerous than any germs they may be carrying.

3. Escape the “aches and pains” conversations

If you find yourself with a client or friend who is engaging in the “aches and pains” conversation, escape the situation as quickly as possible. If you can’t physically leave, do your best to steer the conversation to a different topic. If that doesn’t work, ask the person, “Tell me one thing that is going right today.”

4. Have dinner with loved ones at least three times per week

Research from the late psychologist Paul Pearsall has shown that people who have dinner with loved ones at least three times per week are much less likely to have cancer or heart disease. Moreover, laughing 100 times per day does much more to strengthen you immune system than jogging or just about any other activity.

5. Seek out active and happy older individuals as role models

Just as negative people’s negativity can be catching, so can the highly positive and upbeat attitudes of those who are older, engaged and having a great life.

So if you want to avoid becoming “old” before your time, focus on what’s right in your life, avoid those who are negative, and run from the “aches and pains” conversations as quickly as possible.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.

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