By the books, I’ve passed ‘middle-age.’ Feeling confident, strong and in charge of my moments, I’d love to talk with you a bit about perceptions of aging.
Many like to think they fear not of getting old(er). Many like to think they embrace aging. Many of us do, however, perhaps too often, raise our eyebrows when we hear the number assigned to our time on Earth. Sometimes, we even do a double take seeing our face in a mirror. Getting older and aging can be two different things.
Talking mainly about adults approaching middle age or more, to many of us getting old(er) often implies, becoming ‘less of.’ Aging can also be attached to negativity, but when paired with presence and not fear, is a term that feels better to me – implying improvement (like an aged wine).
I consider this much lately watching my parents age with many issues. Also, a few days back, my great Aunt died at age 100.
Many would insert here, her secrets of making it to 100. “Have many good relationships.” “Play challenging games for your mind.” “Cardio of course, is key.” Those aren’t mine, and of course they don’t work for everyone. I don’t have any of those insightful, and all the rage, ‘Top 5 Things for Getting Older’ to offer. I seldom see discernible patterns in the long-lived in my life. However, I recently saw some results from a research study made sense to me; have long-time friends with whom you are regularly social, live in a walk-able community, and fill your days with many home-based physical tasks [chopping veggies, use hand cranking tools, walk stairs, etc.] that get your body parts moving and your circulation systems stimulated. Again, like my one of my favourite bumper stickers made by a popular local burger joint; “Fast Eddies: Not for Everyone.”
My great Aunt was herself more than not. She was mentally and mostly physically strong until the final month. She was able to take aside those close to her a week ago and say, “This is the last time I’ll be seeing you. I know you know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Enjoy fully the rest of your life,” she said. Isn’t that great, for her? I think so.
“If we could only all do it that way,” is a tempting thought to think. But no, of course, we’re all different. For most of us, the fear of dying thickens as the pages in the calendars pass, stack up, crinkle, and brown on the edges like old wanted posters. And for some – it won’t matter that they live in fear of death all the time, as for some unknown reasons, they’ll live a long time anyway!
Many would prefer not to die young, and yet it’s not completely about lasting to a ripe age either. Consensus these days is about quality and presence – the act of actually living your life moment to moment. And I won’t say “No regrets,” because even though we are filled with ‘learnings,’ there certainly are regrets (at least for me) for which we do not have to dwell upon.
More often than not lately, I’ve had great feelings and thoughts about tipping the scale past so called, ‘middle age.’
What I’ve noticed is that ‘getting old’ is more about the cumulative loss of awarenesses and noticings of our bodies when they are literally speaking to us, telling us what adjustments they need.
More of the following thoughts and actions have kept my body limber, my brain clear-minded and my being spiritually energized: “Oh, I see I have to do this differently.” Or, “Yah, this food isn’t for me anymore.” Or, “I feel I have to start being like this now.” OR, “I think I’ll just stay quiet and observe this and see how this interaction unfolds.” When I ignore these subtle insights and awarenesses, inevitably something from this ‘chosen ignorance’ is manifested, such as an injury, an error, or a gross miscalculation, which many attribute to ‘getting old.’
I effort to refrain from phrases like, “I’m starting to wear down,” “I’m not what I used to be,” and upon seeing undergraduate university students each fall, “Wow. I must be getting old.” While some of these are of course jokes and realizations of new stages in our lives, the subconscious brain hears “…wearing down,….not what I used to be… ….getting feeling old.” What happens? Yes, subconsciously you are directed to things to help you manifest ‘getting old.’
Fortunately, a lot of us get a shot at aging.
It is a choice to do it gracefully, with joy, without fear and importantly, with presence. A hard thing to remember is that we are aging every moment, creating a tidal wave of momentum with our approach. We are feeding our subconscious with every thought and every action, no matter how many times we go to the gym, how many Omega3s we consume, or how much financial wealth we accumulate before death.
So what about quality of life and longevity? You really can only shape quality of life by choice of mindset and finding ways to override negative patterns. That’s one of the many things I teach in workshops and coach as a part of Real Man Power. Longevity is the crap shoot, but certainly some habits more than others, give us better odds at living longer (and living more in joy than fear).
One of the best starting points I advise my clients is to pick one point – say, ‘be kind to all regardless’ or ‘be grateful for everything that shows up in my life.’ Stick with this for a number of days, repeating your goal over an over. ‘Be kind’ or ‘Be Grateful.’ It’s wonderful to see this change your life from the tiny, to the large.
Lastly, and of course the key of this entire post is to shift to aging with more complete awareness. Listen to your body ‘speak’ and observe the signs. The messages you will get inform of you the tweaks and needs to modify approaches to life in a body and mind with changing requirements, and yet steeped with more experiences and greater presence.
Every so often I come across a person considered by society as really old in age but clearly to me they’ve managed to accomplish staying ‘not old’ – not necessarily in their bodies, but in their personalities, their energy levels and effectively in the aura of joy about them. I smile. I certainly don’t consider these people old at all. They have mastered the art of aging.
Notes* A variation of this was first publishing in my LinkedIn account, a couple of years ago. Since this article has aged with awareness, I decided to publish it in my blog knowing that a few of you aren’t on LinkedIn.