Age Powerfully, Not Gracefully
Things that age well:
- Humans who take care of themselves
- Life lessons
- Cheddar cheese
- Icelandic skata
- Kids (with a bit of luck!)
- You and me
The one thing that does NOT age well: Problems
Culturally and socially, we’ve got a problem with aging. We desperately want to stay alive for as long as possible, as evidenced by the boom in all things longevity, and yet we really, really don’t want to age!
Now in my fifties, I’m surrounded by folks whose reaction to another birthday is more akin to mourning than celebration. I don’t get it!
Would they rather be dead? Because it seems so easy to understand that the only way out of aging is death!
To be fair, yes, I understand.. I too don’t love some of the outward signs of aging. But at the same time I realize that these changes are the fee for living longer, not a fine.
I’m also all for looking as great as we possibly can at any age. My own deepest commitment, now that my children are adults, is twofold.
The obvious one is to my profession of coaching, but the not so obvious one is to being a stand for powerful aging. Note, I did not say “graceful” aging. I have zero intention of dancing into the sunset gracefully and anyone who knows me will confirm that I work hard to age well.
However, as I look around me for inspiration on how to age well, most often the only thing I see is fear and riding shotgun is always desperation. We are distorting our faces (whether through surgery or IG filters) in ways that future generations will certainly wonder about.
They will look back at our bizarre but totally wrinkle free faces and wonder what we were thinking!
They will do the math and realize that their mom was fifty when she used the filter to make herself look fifteen on social media.
The emperor has no clothes and no one dares tell him so!
Even though we look freakin’ weird, our doctors, friends, and family are not expected to tell us the truth. The first has a conflict of interest and the other two want to be kind and respect our wishes.
But the bigger issue is cultural, social and environmental. And it has to do with our American mindset around aging. We believe that getting older is a bad thing, and similar to cancer, it must be attacked and corrected with every weapon at our disposal. Young is better than old in every way and it’s our job to fight aging and its unwelcome gifts.
This belief is understandable given our cumulative age as a country. By all measures we are in our childhood or at best, adolescence, compared to most other cultures.
Additionally, we’re not great fans of history and context. We are literally behaving in line with the typical teenager who thinks she knows best and older people are just annoying and stupid. The prefrontal cortex hasn’t kicked in yet and she is capable of endless shenanigans.
I know, because I was that teenager.
But at this beautiful time in my life, I’m excited to explore what’s possible on the second mountain of life and find myself surrounded by successful, intelligent and high achieving human beings with a teenage mindset about aging.
A mindset that holds us back from living our lives with the kind of ease, fun and purpose that plastic surgery doesn’t seem to deliver regardless of how many times we change doctors and how many new procedures we commit to.
I don’t know if this anti-aging mindset will change in my lifetime, but I am wholly and profoundly committed to changing the conversation around this deeply important subject.
Tell me, what’s more important than how we feel about ourselves?
Well, if your answer is …
“Nothing”... let me add,
Then feeling bad about our neck, knees, skin, hair, vagina, and prostate is getting in the way of this goal!
I don’t have a simple solution for turning this huge ship around. But here is a list of five actions that in my experience can contribute to a shift in our collective mindset about aging:
1. Explore and understand your own “why” for living with purpose.
As Simon Sinek says, “Start with Why”. My why today is not what it was at any other decade of my life. Your’s won’t be either. Take your time with this step and give yourself the gift of working it through with a professional. Every other step is built on this foundation.
2. Be worldly.
Expose yourself to other cultures and social norms. Our tiny little American pond, which is where our harmful and blatantly wrong beliefs about aging have developed, is not the place from which generous and more useful beliefs will come from. Credit to my favorite Life Coach, Albert Einstein, who said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
3. Speak the whole truth, not just parts of it.
Sit with any person who is in their second half of life and they will tell you that the gifts of aging far outweigh the burdens. The wisdom of age eclipses the knowledge of youth by leaps and bounds. And yes, maybe we can’t go as fast, but we know how to go far. If you’re an elder, speak the whole truth. If you’re young, ask for the whole truth.
4. Double down on things that make you feel alive!
Forget that old saying we all loved to throw around in our youth, “I can sleep when I’m dead.” Firstly, most of those people who lived by that principle are or look dead. Secondly, good sleep is the greatest blessing and the actual elixir of youth.
Send me an email if you’d like to be a stand for aging powerfully.