Examining Your Own Attitudes About AgeWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
A common complaint of mature is that, in American society, there is far too much focus on youth. We collectively spend a fortune on attempting to look younger and fighting natural results of gravity, sun exposure, and poisons that have seeped into our bodies through years of unhealthy eating, drinking, smoking, lack of exercise, and self-neglect.
"Getting old is pits" we are wont to mumble as we get up slowly from floor, recalling how we used to spring upright without a second thought. We feel more secure in lower heels and often forget principles of good posture, our shoulders rounding forward into an aging stoop.
We walk past a shop window and are shocked by figure we see: "That can't be me. It's my mother (father)!"
We can fight biological ravages of aging only so far. Depending upon our budget, we can buy anti-aging creams, vitamins, cover-ups, special makeup, have HGH injections at a few thousand dollars a shot, or a complete makeover by an exclusive (and expensive) plastic surgeon. Some of us, despite desire for eternal youth, settle into our senior years overweight, wrinkled, stooped over, but content.
If we have limits on what we can do to look physically young, we have an unlimited ability to think young. If we progress into maturity with a positive attitude about aging, we can make sure that we are as productive, attractive, and youthful as our bodies allow. No, we will not have taut unlined skin of our teens and twenties, nor athletic energy we recall so fondly, but we will maintain our self-respect, our pride, and a vital sense of our own value.
How many of following negative attitudes have you already unconsciously adopted?
1. "Getting older means I can't be active anymore."
In a limited sense this is true. If you performed heavy labor as a youth, it is unlikely that you now want to lift hundreds of pounds throughout day. If you stood on your feet waiting tables or in retail, your feet and legs will warn you to cut back. However, with additional free time you gain as children leave home and you look forward to, or move into, retirement, you have opportunity to expand your activities which was impossible when you were over-committed to work and family needs. Daily walking will keep your joints lubricated, your cardiovascular system healthy, and your mood upbeat. Buy a pedometer and gradually increase distance you walk. Practice good posture by walking tall as if there were a string in your head pulling you up, up, up. Check out your community for swimming classes, tennis lessons, tai chi, or yoga. All will leave you feeling younger, more vibrant, with little chance of injury. If you have long participated in vigorous physical activity, such as jogging, aerobics, softball, or racquetball - keep doing it. There is no reason to cut back on activities you enjoy until they become absolutely medically contraindicated, if ever.
2. "I get a headache when I have to read something technical or try to figure out my computer. I just don't concentrate as well as I used to."
The Big Secret of AgeWritten by Virginia Bola, PsyD
Think back to when you were a child. Pick a time when you were aware of world and starting to notice things around you, perhaps 10 or 11 years old. Most of us had aging individuals in our lives: grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers. We may have loved them dearly but they were different to us: they were old. As we grew up, inevitably some of those people died. We were sad that they had gone but comforted by knowledge that they had enjoyed a good, long, interesting life. Our unspoken assumption was that they felt old, were ready to go, were prepared for end.
It is only when we ourselves mature that we finally discover big secret: that no matter our biological age, WE DON'T FEEL ANY DIFFERENT. We think of ourselves as personally indestructible and immortal, just as we did as carefree children. We look in mirror and see wrinkles, thinning hair, ravages of gravity to a once taut jawline, but we still see us. We walk around and look out at world through same eyes and perspective we have always used. We are shocked when someone guesses our age and is pretty accurate. How can that be - I don't feel 50 or 60 or 70 - how can they think that I'm really age I carry on my driver's license?
We know that despite billions of dollars we collectively spend on looking younger, improving our health, and fighting onslaught of time, our days are numbered. As a product of carbon cycle, we start inexorable march to death from day we unwillingly leave safety of womb. We know intellectually that at some time, probably later but possibly sooner, we are going to no longer exist. Yet we live as if we will defy odds and live forever. A soldier on a battlefield sees friends and enemies obliterated around him. It is his sense that laws of chance do not personally apply to him that keeps him going back for more. It is this same ingrained notion that allows us to enjoy dangerous behaviors from mountain climbing and bungee jumping, to unprotected sex, smoking, and eating fast food. "You're going to kill yourself," is an admonition that makes us smile as we continue in activities we find pleasurable and rewarding.