“Ageing is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength” Betty Friedan
In honour of Bealtaine being the month of Age and opportunity, I decided to complete some research on the positive psychology of ageing. In the past many of the studies of aging focussed on the adverse effects of aging in medical terms, however there is a new wave of studies coming out around the positive aspects of aging and how to approach the aging process. They look at it terms of successful attributes of aging and concentrating on the positive scenarios.
We all know people in our lives who we would say have “aged gracefully”; there is a certain vibrancy about them, there is an inner strength with them despite their age. What is it about them that stands out from other people experiencing the same stage of life? For me I think it is about building resilience and a sense of purpose and value in our life.
But if you don’t feel that right now, all is not lost. It is never too late to try something new. You can develop habits to build on these aspects of your life. The Psychologists would propose many differing ideas but I have narrowed it down to 5 things:
1. Stay physically active- our bodies are a bit like a car, if you let it rest too long it gets a bit rusty and creaky. We need to keep the engine running and our bodies moving in order to stay healthy.
2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle- everything in moderation and avoid the nasty stuff- you know the drill! And keep in with your GP, they will help you to stay on top of your health.
3. Stay connected to other people- maintain the relationships that you have and foster new relationships with others young and old. There is always something new to learn from people and they might learn a thing or two from you too. Join a club or a committee to support your community.
4. Exercise your brain- keep doing the things that you love or maybe take up a new hobby if you like. I know lots of people who are true experts in their field of interest, it helps them to remain curious and interactive. It doesn’t have to be too challenging, read a book, check out the library or internet for interesting topics to research, do puzzles/ sudoku to keep you brain active.
5. We need goals- yes, we do need goals to keep motivated. If you have no purpose or control of the day you can feel lost or frustrated. Set small personal goals during the day; it could be keeping the house/garden organised, starting a business, planning a holiday or a shopping trip. Goals are individual, so it is important that you design them yourself.
I would like to add one more thing to the list-
Pride- be proud of where you have come from, be proud of yourself and your body, wrinkles, warts and all, you have been on a long journey, sometimes challenging, and sometimes rewarding. And you are still here facing this day and the next. Take pride in your accomplishments.
“I want to be a new version of the 70-year-old woman. Vital, strong, very physical, very agile. I think that the older I get, the more yoga I’m going to do.” Jaime Lee Curtis