When did you go from looking forward to being older as a kid to the fear of being older, i.e., career status, partner relationship, not being in a partner relationship, starting or exiting a business, physical abilities, appearance, mental capacity, or losing your independence? Millennials who were to be young forever are turning toward forty and anxious about aging. As you age, your body, face, and abilities change. It is inevitable and out of your control! But where you place your focus and your attitude as you age will determine whether you will age gracefully. Understand that aging must be a matter of acceptance rather than one of denial. No one moves through every moment of life with grace.
But you want to ensure that as you age you live more graceful moments and fewer fighting moments. Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied too many. Life expectancy continues to rise globally especially in developed countries with a preoccupation with living longer. The anti-aging market will be a $300 billion industry by 2024. Aging is complicated and involves wrinkles and graying hair but also biological changes in your mental outlook, hopes, expectations, and how you interact with others. Pleasant and unpleasant significant life events have an impact on your goals, beliefs, values, principles and how you behave toward others. Do you perceive yourself as younger or older than your chronological age? Other perspectives about your age also influence your outcomes:
• Overall satisfaction with your life.
• Experiences of the world as unsafe versus safe.
• Level of responsibility and organization.
• Perception about growing older.
• Social and cultural stereotypes.
I recall when working in corporate a “gentleman” told me that I should be at home taking care of my grandchildren and not working. I told him if he wanted to pursue quitting his job to be a caregiver of his grandchildren, I would support him in that effort. He was silent as he should have been. I choose not to allow the negativity to define me and keep me from my goals and success. Dr. Laura Carstensen of Stanford University suggests that the goals you set for yourself are based on how you perceive the amount of time remaining to pursue them. Increased self-scrutiny to make the right choices to accomplish important goals while harshly evaluating your life based on your successes or failures becomes paramount. To age gracefully, you must see your life through the lens of overall success versus failure. Growing older itself is an accomplishment no matter the age.
Aging with grace requires “living” with grace. It cannot be only about appearances or not smoking, drinking, eating right, or exercising although important. You do not want to leave this earth with a body well preserved, only having lived a bored, underwhelming life. Living your life with self-confidence is the key while getting over your own stereotypes about growing older. Reflect on the “be” attitudes below to help you through your journey of aging gracefully:
• Be accepting of aging and all the changes that come with it.
• Be fun having a sense of humor.
• Be intentional about making sound decisions forgiving yourself when you do not.
• Be authentic with self-confidence using change to your advantage.
• Be selfish by doing things that make YOU happy.
• Be your best self by choosing a cheerful outlook to make your moments/days great.
• Be purposeful and purpose filled.
• Be forgiving of yourself and others.
• Be love, give love, and receive love.
• Be present with yourself and your surroundings.
• Be realistic seeking progress over perfection.
The people who do the best with aging are not thinking that much about getting older. Ensure you are making a life and not only making a living. Maya Angelou said, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” Only when you feel good yourself can you make others feel good. To feel good, accept progress over perfection, take smaller situational bites to avoid choking over the situation, move more and sit less, eat healthy, and start something new.
You do not have to ignore the challenges from aging. To the contrary, embrace them, navigate through your feelings, and develop a plan of action to mitigate any negative exposures, experiences, or feelings. Remain a curious and active participant with a connection to a changing world. In doing so, you will have wisdom, confidence, and deep meaning in your life.
The key to aging successfully is to pay as little attention to it as possible.
Article Written By: Gladys Agwai
As featured in: