We are all getting older at exactly the same rate. Each day lived moves us down the line a bit more. For those of us who are already mid-life or better, living in a society that worships youth can feel daunting at times. It is also an immeasurable gift.
Here is a quote by Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers Movement that I intend to use regularly to debunk stereotypes:
“There are six myths about old age: 1. That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2. That we are mindless. 3. That we are sexless. 4. That we are useless. 5. That we are powerless. 6. That we are all alike.”
We are none of those things. I focus on the positives in life. Here are five wonderful ideas to go beyond living in maturity and right into THRIVING.
1. Maturing is liberating. We have had a lifetime of growing, breaking, achieving, failing, and loving, and now it’s time to take everything we’ve learned, let it all go, and love the life we’ve lived and are living. The highest value to most people according to numerous polls is freedom. Having lived through a nice number of decades myself, I can say that my sense of freedom has grown steadily with the number of candles on the cake, if I were doing that routine.
2. We know ourselves better and simultaneously become more comfortable in our own skin. It’s impossible to rush this process and time is the only key that we can successfully employ. Self-knowledge is exceptionally empowering. It feels like a steadying inner awareness and a comforting heartbeat throughout my existence.
“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” — David Bowie
3. Happy! Yes, we tend to get happier as we age. Being happy may comes easier as our brains seem to be wired to remember the good times. A brain-scanning study published in 2010 in the journal Cortex revealed that older adults' rose-colored glasses may be linked to the way the brain processes emotional content.
The older adults showed strong connections between the brain regions that process emotions and those known to be important to the successful formation of memories, particularly when processing positive information. The same strong connections weren't found for the younger participants. Come on, get happy!
“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
4. Like a fine wine, mature adults have been aged to perfection it seems, at least when it comes to wisdom. As you age, you may have a tougher time tuning out irrelevant information, but this lack of focus can actually boost memory, according to research published in 2010 in the journal Psychological Science. More specifically, seniors have the unique ability to "hyper-bind" the irrelevant information, essentially tying it to other information that is appearing at the same time. This type of memory could help older adults with decision-making and problem solving, the researchers suspect.
Researchers at the University of Michigan presented “Dear Abby” letters to 200 people and asked what advice they would give. Subjects in their 60s were better than younger ones at imagining different points of view, thinking of multiple resolutions, and suggesting compromises. Mature minds tend to better understand the weight of each decision because they know the value of their time, energy and happiness.
“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” — Betty Friedan
5. People learn how to deal with social conflicts more effectively as they mature. Managing emotions is a skill in itself, one that takes many of us decades to master. For a study published this year, German researchers had people play a gambling game meant to induce regret. Unlike 20-somethings, those in their 60s didn’t agonize over losing, and they were less likely to try to redeem their loss by later taking big risks.
These social skills may bring huge benefits. In 2010, researchers at Stony Brook University analyzed a telephone survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans and found that people over 50 were happier overall, with anger declining steadily from the 20s through the 70s and stress falling off a cliff in the 50s. That’s a good thing to lose!
I’d like to add in gratitude here as I close out this newsletter. I’m grateful for good health, family, work I love and the opportunity to have had so many experiences thus far. My zest for life has amped up instead of abating.
Would you like that in your life as well? I can help you with achieving what you want to do as a productive, mature individual.