It’s time to approach this whole business of aging with an open mind. Those old stories we’ve learned from our culture, the negative stereotypes we’ve internalized? We need to take a good look at those and start to bust the myths and redefine aging based on our own lived experience in our own lives and our own bodies.
The new science of aging is showing us that it is most definitely NOT “all down hill after 50.” In fact, in our fifties and sixties we tend to be happier and more stable than we were when we were younger – and the potential to be just as healthy and fit as we were in our forties is there too – yes, we have to work at it, and yes, it is worth it.
So, we can read the books, review the new research, take good care of our bodies, but ultimately the most important thing we can do to embrace our aging as a positive experience is to look within, at our own long-held beliefs and expectations. Try journaling the following questions to begin to examine your attitudes about aging:
When you were growing up, what were your experiences with older adults? When you thought of yourself aging, what did you imagine, and how did it feel?
As a young adult, how did you think of and speak about older adults? Were you ever condescending or disparaging? Were you positive and interested?
Is aging a positive thing?
Have you ever looked forward to being fifty or older?
What were your parent’s lives like when they were the age you are now? How did you see their health, their appearance, their attitudes? How did this influence you?
What do you feel you will lose as you age? What will you gain? Examine these beliefs about loss and gain. Are they true?
How did it feel to consider these questions? Are you ready to begin to tell a new story about aging?