If I had a dollar (I would say the old term of “nickel” but no one uses coins anymore!) for every time someone said, “getting old is not for the faint of heart …”, I would be rich! Seriously. Screw that philosophy. I’m not going to buy into it.
I recently read a book entitled, The Changing Mind: A Neuroscientist’s Guide to Ageing Well, which confirmed my alternate thoughts on moving forward in life, and how cool it can be.
Essentially author Daniel Levitin, did a survey of more than 15,000 men and women aged 18-94 in New Zealand over the course of six years. It was published in Body Image, an international, peer-reviewed (that’s a hot word post-COVID) journal that publishes research articles on … well, body image.
The findings were just crazy simple. First, body satisfaction increases as we get older. Well actually, men’s body image remains stable (sorry guys) and women’s increased as they got older. The obvious reason for this is that we all realize that there are way more important things in life than our looks. Duh.
This book also confirmed what I actually notice in my own life, which is we actually get happier as we get older. In fact, his research was that we get increasingly happier into our 80’s, peaking in our early to mid-80’s. Just totally confirmed what I believe!
As I talked with a friend about this book, she said that getting older was really just about forgetting things and getting depressed. Hmm. Negative Nellie, for sure. And, I suppose one might consider that as an alternative reality. But, I think for most of us, the opposite is true, that we become more aware, and more in tune with life and the world as we move forward in life.
When my grandfather was dying, I asked him what was it like being in love with my grandmother … were they still close and intimate as they had been when they were younger? His response was (I remember it as if it was yesterday), “I am more in tune with your grandmother now, than ever before in our lives.” This was as he was dying and less than two months before his death.
As a teacher, I was always struck by how a young child could concentrate on something. They didn’t let their mind get distracted with the s*** of life (something I often do on a daily basis!). It’s how they beat us in chess and cards … they can concentrate and it’s not that their minds are younger … it’s that they are cleaner.
Getting older allows us to clean our minds. To go back to that hyper-focus stage and really pay attention to what matters.
I’m going to embrace all of this. I buy it and agree with it! For me, it’s yet another cool thing about moving forward in life — or in other words, getting old(er). 🙂