Is it even possible to age gracefully? Do you look in the mirror and notice the evidence of time passing? Do you fear getting old?
A negative process
Generally ageing is portrayed across all kinds of media as a negative process of decay, something to be dreaded and fought with every means at your disposal. (However this is more true for Western than Eastern and African cultures, where ageing is associated with more positives like gaining wisdom and maturity, and where elders are more respected.)
The emphasis is on youthfulness
In Western cultures the the emphasis is definitely not on ageing gracefully. The focus is on youth, or at least the illusion of youth, which needs to be maintained at all costs.
It’s a major industry
There is a booming market in anti-ageing. There are creams and cosmetics, fillers, injections, and numerous non-invasive and invasive cosmetic procedures. All kinds of surgery for cosmetic purposes are available and becoming more common and acceptable.
You feel like you have to use filters
Finally, it seems to be almost expected these days that all public images are filtered and photoshopped – to the point that when you meet people in person for the first time it can be quite a shock.
Medical science offers reasons to hope
There is currently some promising research in gerontology, the study of ageing, which offers hope that ways to prolong overall health and longevity will be available in the next couple of decades or even sooner. But in the meantime, medical science doesn’t yet have convincing therapies on hand to offer the older generations.
In any case, we need to make the right choices in order to age gracefully.
Blue-footed Booby success formula: How to age gracefully
- Face your own mortality! Many people fear thinking about the end of their own life, but death is literally the only certainty there is. Facing the fact that you will die at some point is an important part of ageing gracefully.
- Appreciate that life is short and acknowledge that the limited time you have on this earth is precious.
- Accept that ageing is inevitable and will become more apparent no matter what you do to preserve youthfulness.
- Make the harder choices that will bring joy to the future you. You know, exercise, eat well, invest in your social relationships, and reach out for therapy if you can’t let things go.
- Be present in the day, in the hour and in the moment. Focusing your attention on the here and now enables you to live your life to the full.
Q: What if I want to use cosmetic interventions to look younger for as long as possible?
A: Your decisions about your physical person are yours to make. No one has the right to judge you. The point is to live your life to the full and if procedures are part of that for you, that is completely fine.
Q: I am scared of dying
A: It’s normal to be afraid of the unknown. But anxiety about the future only steals your joy in the present, so use grounding techniques to help you to focus on the present moment. If death anxiety is something that you can’t manage on your own, seek help – reach out for therapy.
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