Act younger, feel younger and be younger. That’s what our society wants you to do.
That’s because there is a lot of money to be made when you, as an older adult, chase after the dream of perpetual youth. You buy anti-aging drugs and cosmetics, you buy expensive clothes, you squeeze into Spanx, you get Botox, plastic surgery, hair transplants, laser hair removal, dental implants, you get your spider veins removed, your teeth whitened, you get a personal trainer, you buy diet books, you buy a sports car.
But what if you didn’t have to do any of these things? What if you could be truly happy with the age you are right now, and comfortable with the prospect of growing older? It’s going to take a big shift in your thinking, but you can learn to feel better about this natural process called aging.
First of all you have to see all the marketing of “youth” products for what it is: marketing. Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on remaining young because corporations make enormous profits selling the idea that we can somehow go back in time. They know, of course, that aging is a natural process and that nothing can stop it, but they hope maybe you haven’t actually grasped that.
You have to set them, and the rest of the people on the planet, straight. Aging is the natural progression of the human lifecycle. It is, if you will, the goal of every child, adolescent and adult to reach maturity. To live long enough to have a wealth of experience, perspective and wisdom. To be rich in self-knowledge and confidence. To be old is to be at the very pinnacle of human development. When you’re 20, you’re able to look good in a bikini. When you’re 60, you’re able to influence a generation.
This is the way you need to start thinking about yourself and the wonderful stage you have entered. Your opinions are valuable because they’ve been formed from years of trial and error. Your mastery of certain skills and knowledge is rare because it’s taken so many years to acquire. You don’t have to impress anyone, you can be yourself in ways that were never possible when you were young. So now you can enjoy the ride. And see the road in front of you unfolding with new adventures, new views of the world around you, new opportunities to just be present.
We can only change society’s view of aging if we admit to ourselves and to others that we are, in fact, growing old. It’s okay. It’s the way things are supposed to be. And we can relish every minute of it if we accept aging as a reassuring, natural evolution that means we’ve won. We’re still here.
Trying to look younger or trying to be younger almost seems silly. Especially since we’ve captured the prize. We need to tell society every day that we are not buying into the idea that younger is better. We think being young is good. But we think being older, where we are now, is extraordinary.
Coming next: 5 Ways to Feel Better About Your Age Right Now
*A book you might want to read to help you transition to a more enlightened view of aging is: What Are Old People For? by William H. Thomas, MD. He is a geriatrician, professor at the University of Maryland and one of the leading authorities on the future of aging and longevity. I used the above book as the crux of a class I taught last fall through the University of Denver. The first five chapters are particularly eye-opening. Available at www.amazon.com