Being old and feeling/acting old are not equivalent, however. We can manage our thoughts and our speech, to focus on the good and positive and energetic. We may have fewer years ahead then we’ve had behind, but we’re not dead yet and in fact, research is showing that our attitudes about age can affect our life expectancy:
This research found that older individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging, measured up to 23 years earlier, lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging. This advantage remained after age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness, and functional health were included as covariates.
So there is an element of mind over matter, it seems, in having a longer, happier life. Here are some of my own tips for not thinking “old”, nor drifting down the River Denial.
Listen to music and dance as often as possible. Dip your toe into modern music and don’t stick only to the tunes of your own youth. There’s always good music being created. If you have Spotify or Pandora, try spooling up current hits. Or alternately, treat yourself to some Broadway tunes, new and old.
Walk around your town/city and learn something new, and if you’re really lucky, end up at your favorite pub or coffee shop. One of my 85+ year-old acquaintances, Jeannie, was a regular at our local watering hole, enjoying a beer and a chat. One day she fell, and never recovered from her injury; she died about a week later. But she wasn’t sad or mad about being 85. She was enjoying every day, two blocks from her home.
Wear something “young” and unexpected. A question I ask myself is “would my mother have worn this at 63?” And if yes, it’s probably not for me. She was lovely and very traditional/conservative. I’m not so traditional, and love to wear graphic tees, funky Doc Martens, and jumpsuits.
Read new-to-you topics and keep learning/thinking/acting up. It doesn’t have to be about politics (I’m taking a break from the news), but maybe the practice of banning girls and women to “menstruation huts” in parts of Nepal. “Misogyny exists in every culture and I think it boils down to men’s fear of female power,” says the article. Food for thought and future posts.
Never say: “kids these days” or “in my day” or “that’s not music, that’s noise,” or “I’m not up to it” unless you’re being totally ironic.
Have younger and older friends, and try to learn from all of them. I love hanging with all my girls, from my 16 year-old niece to my senior fellow volunteers.
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