Lessons in Aging – Number One

One aspect of this blog is the journey approaching our ‘third age’ and I want to explore with others how to do so as constructively as possible.  As I have previously expressed, I want this to be a silver not grey journey.

In recent weeks I have attended an AgeEsteem workshop (1); listened to specialist speakers during one of that organisation’s online telesummits; read a little around the subject and, maybe most importantly of all, I have been observing and paying more attention than in the past to people around me who are not letting advancing age be any impediment to a rich life.

My first lesson is a simple one … it is, I observe, all in the mind.

Not surprisingly one’s attitude to aging seems to determine how well you adapt, accept and are content in this new phase.  As my upbeat 85 year old father says “I never think of how old I am. I think I can do this, I can do so much of that, and don’t dwell on what I can no longer do.”   Similarly my 85 year old mother does not dress “old” but in bright fashionable clothes, never letting her hair and make-up go unattended.

Many other senior people around me exemplify the same philosophy.   Think old and so shall ye be, it seems.   Some scientific studies have backed up this life lesson, with findings indicating that optimistic people live healthier and even longer lives (2).

If that then is the goal, HOW does one achieve it? Does it depend on your nature, whether or not you are born or have effortlessly become a glass half-full or empty kind of person? Are the half-empties eternally doomed?

glass full

Life teachers tell us not. That if we are not naturally affirmative about the future we can move to a more beneficial outlook. Millions have been made in the ‘positive thinking’ industry as a result of this assertion.

So, we are told, dispelling what are called limiting self-beliefs, picked up and cultivated during our lifetimes, can lead to us believing and acting in a more confident way.   We can turn restrictive thoughts into liberating ones, ridding ourselves of the idea that “I am not fit enough to do that; I am not good enough to do this; people will laugh if I do that; I will only fail again if I try that.”   How one achieves that is the life-blood of countless self-help gurus, coaches, and psychologists – some of whom say that simply repeating constructive statements, affirmations, will have a favourable effect. It is a kind of magic.   The brain hears and believes it, obediently, because you said so.

Yet others contend that there is a universal ‘law’ and that by expressing these favourable messages to the cosmos you create your own future. Not only your mind, but the universe itself hears and echoes these assertions and manifests them. This is the contention of various philosophies, new thought religions, and best sellers like “The Secret” (3).

I had a go at this on the AgeEsteem workshop which I attended, listing some of the thoughts that can obstruct me from what I dream of doing.   I found that simply reversing the restrictive thought had no effect on me.   My debilitating apprehensions about writing a blog (in essence: “my writing will probably not be of interest to anyone, who would want to read MY musings?”) could not plausibly be turned into “I am a fascinating writer and hordes of people will follow my posts”.   However, with some thought they COULD be turned into believable statements that actually did completely free me to publish and be damned. These were:  “My experiences are important enough to record.   Only I can write about the things I uniquely witness and feel.”   These I could believe because they were credible and authentic. These pronouncements and new beliefs unshackled me and set my keyboard rattling.

Of course you will have got to the punch line of this post a while ago. Freeing ourselves from thoughts that chain us is an extraordinary triumph at any age.

 

(1)   AgeEsteem©

(2a)  Mayo Clinic Study on optimism

(2b)  University of Michigan Study

(3)  “The Secret” by Rhonda Burne, published by Simon & Schuster Ltd 2006

 

 

 

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