Once it hits you that you are ageing, it can be quite disconcerting. It all just creeps up, and before you know it—wham! The door with the big sign that says “YOUTH” on it slams shut behind you. It’s not an easy decision to embrace ageing, but that’s exactly what we need to do if we are to achieve peace and happiness. Since my own obligatory mid-life crisis in my 40s, I’ve followed a lot of research on happiness and ageing—and you know what? It consistently shows that older people are happier.
How to embrace ageing
So instead of wallowing in your fears about the hard parts of getting older, try focusing on the positive. Here are eight reasons why being older can lead to a happier state, and why you should embrace ageing:
We enjoy simple pleasures more
As we get older, we discover interesting, sometimes previously hidden, parts of ourselves. And because we no longer have the hang-ups of youth—school, university, new relationships, new careers, young children—there is little to prevent us exploring these. It is easier, therefore, to seek out new adventures and make new friends along the way.
Near enough is now good enough
When we embrace ageing, we get to a stage where we throw unrealistic expectations out the window and look for situations that are viable in our life situation. This doesn’t mean we drop the bar entirely, though. I just no longer want to invest 80 percent of my energy getting the last 20 percent perfect. Instead, I want to enjoy my life with less time spent striving to be perfect and time spent being grateful for small mercies.
Positive thinking becomes easier
As we get older, we tend to think more positively. (Well, not all of us I suppose, but then we won’t tolerate those “glass half empty” people as much!) There are numerous reasons for this, one of which is that we realise we want to live the best life we can in the remaining available time.
Trusting is easier
What is the point in not trusting others? What kind of emotions does distrust invoke? Usually, not positive ones! To embrace ageing is to decide to trust a little more and to become vulnerable. This opens the door to all sorts of new experiences, new friendships and new knowledge.
Emotional intelligence improves
Our emotional intelligence improves with age. Getting older increases our ability to let go of negative emotional reactions to situations and deal with those feelings in more productive ways. We simply decide not to fight for every detail and not to sweat the small stuff. The capacity to regulate our reactions greatly improves our mental well being.
Implementing healthy behaviours becomes easier
As we get older, we have no choice but to recognise the importance of eating the right foods, exercising regularly and decreasing stress. We feel amazing when we start to implement healthy practices into our lives at any age. As we begin losing friends and family members to cancer and heart disease, it’s our wake-up call to positively change our lifestyles.
Our networks become increasingly valuable and fulfilling
As we age, we really understand how important our work and social networks are. We rally around each other to do the projects we’ve talked about for years and now have the money and time to complete. I’ve been incredibly lucky and now enjoy all sorts of support from the relationships I’ve nurtured, particularly those started in the last two decades.
We learn the art of reflection
We want to be efficient with the time we have left—something we keenly realise is unknown. This bittersweet understanding means the good things in life really stand out. We become grateful. We don’t want to keep repeating our mistakes, so we get better at viewing our actions from another’s point of view.
The next time you notice yet another spot or new wrinkle, ignore it. Or fix it! You have the choice to use your time any way you like. We can frame things differently if we choose to. We can choose to embrace ageing with an understanding that we have probably spent the first 50 years in a hurry with no time, wisdom or awareness about what it all meant. The understanding that we are ageing enables us to focus on the many positives associated with moving into a brand new—and potentially very rich—phase of our lives.
Kate Marie is the founder of the Slow Ageing movement which aims to support women to embrace the beyond- fifties as a time to optimise personal health and wellbeing and to live a life of purpose and contribution. She is the co- author of the Slow Ageing Guide to Skin Rejuvenation and the best-selling book Fast Living Slow Ageing. Both books are available where all good books are sold. For more information visit www.slowaging.org
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