How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
My husband and I like to ask that question. It’s interesting to watch people’s reactions. How old would you be?
Hey. I know none of us like to think about aging. But how big a deal is this to you? Have you ever lied about your age? Be honest. I don’t lie but I’ve gotten good at equivocating. And I gave up telling my children’s ages years ago.
We boomers don’t want to grow old—period. We can’t help it. We are, after all, the “youth generation.” It’s in our DNA, which stands for Do Not Age. Most of us just don’t buy into the “aging gracefully” thing. We’ll succumb to old age kicking and screaming with our bling-incrusted heels dug in. Each year we spend billions on vitamins, health clubs, alternative therapies—and billions more on cosmetic procedures, because we are still in hot pursuit of our own fountain of youth.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay young, active, and vital. But what lies at the core of our attitude about aging? Part of the problem is our youth-centered culture. In other countries age is revered, but our society denigrates the aged. The media propaganda makes us believe older people are ugly, dim-witted, and sexless, unneeded and cast aside. Research shows none of that is true.
Another reason we cling to our youth is fear. Fear of losing control. Fear of becoming dependent. Fear of becoming useless. Fear that this life is all there is. But if you believe the Bible, then you know that this life is only a nano-second in the continuum of our human existence.
If you were asked to define successful aging, what would you say? Here are some typical answers:
I don’t want a definition, because I’m not going there.
Don’t get old, don’t lose control, don’t go to a nursing home, don’t get stuck in the past; don’t give up.
Stay young, stay fit, stay engaged, stay positive, stay in my own home, stay free, stay rich.
And my personal favorite:
Stay as young as you can for as long as you can and die quick!
You can see that many of the answers use “don’t” and “stay.” That spells denial. So how can we turn our desire to stay young into a peaceful acceptance of where we are now and optimism about the future?
Attitude is everything. It may not happen overnight, but amazing freedom comes when we can release the fear and dread about the future and learn to trust God. It is truly a gift—a gift we can give ourselves.
Would you let me know how you feel about aging? Maybe you have some youthful tricks up your sleeve that you can share with me and your other friends. Check out my secrets for successful aging on this page.
And remember, I’m here for you.
Shirley’s Secrets for Successful Aging
Accept Yourself Just As You Are. There may be help for the sagging skin, cellulite, and wrinkles (more later on appearance tips). But accept what you can’t change or improve and give up the need for perfection.
Celebrate the Moment. Forget about the numbers. Celebrate every day and every moment. “Teach us to number our days…” (Psalm 90:12)
Be Informed. Keep up with current events, read, watch the news, converse about politics and movies, and use the Internet. Become familiar with new technology and discuss it as though you know what you are talking about (even if you’re not sure).
Associate with Young People. Fellowship with men and women of all ages. Acquire younger friends and be their mentor. Distance yourself from negative, fatalistic, “old thinking” people that bring you down.
Focus on the Benefits of Your Present Age. Yes, there are many.
Laugh Everyday. Laugh with loved ones—or laugh alone. Just laugh.