Mind over matter

As we think about later life we often find the subject daunting, frightening even. It need not be so.

Much of our fear is derived from the accepted societal view of retirement and of course ageing itself. Our society is, perhaps unintentionally, ageist. Ironically some of the most “ageist” people I meet are well past their retirement age. We have simply been brought up to think negatively about being older.

The problem of how we view ageing is our mindset, since we have been programmed to think and speak negatively about age, using silly terms such as “senior moment”, we simply reinforce the notion.

The result? A self-fulfilling prophecy.

I have long held the view that the alternative to getting older is seriously unattractive and have done my best to eradicate the negative self-talk on ageing and the use of similar phrases towards others. I confess it has not always been easy for me, I do stumble, no one is perfect.

Another approach I adopted to mending my own mindset was to seek out older role models and there are a lot. A couple I have referenced previously, Professor Nancy Schlossberg and Dr. Norman Lazarus. Recently I have added a new name to my list, Paul Tasner who became a first time entrepreneur aged 66. The business he created, PulpWorks manufactures biodegradable packaging from waste materials. Now aged 78 (and much younger than Nancy and Norman) he continues to seek to make the world a better place.

How we think is how we are, by changing how you think you can in turn alter your perspective which can lead to greater vibrancy about life and oddly how others perceive us. When we think differently we tend to act differently, we become noticeably more energetic, suddenly others start to see us as being younger.

I was mortified when a young woman stood to offer me her seat on the London Underground, I was just 49 at the time. Now in my sixties I am rarely afforded this opportunity. I don’t think it is because younger people on the tube are less polite but that I appear more energetic. I am certainly slimmer and fitter, a few more wrinkles of course, but I also have a better and a more energetic body language.

None of these comes easy, but then very little that is worthwhile is ever easy.