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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is Growing Old a Bad Habit?


When I was a little girl, being 35 was considered pretty old. When I was in my late teens, Jane Fonda yelled out on her fitness videos (to my great delight, but also consternation, due to the paradigms it shifted in my mind): 40 is beautiful! When I was in my early 20's I couldn't imagine having long hair after I turned 30 because dignified women of a certain age didn't do that. When I was in my 30's reaching the age of 50 seemed very old indeed. And yet now all of that has changed.

It hasn't changed just because I have changed in my process (and passage beyond) all of the above-mentioned ages, but because much of the world has changed as well, as we have come to realize that being chronologically old does not necessarily mean you are old, nor does it mean that you can no longer be physically and mentally fit.

I imagine you also know some octogenarians and even nonagenarians who are still fully in their lives in those very late decades of life that used to be considered very, very old. If you don't know any personally, perhaps you know some through the press or celebrities, What do they all appear to share? They are interested in life, they remain curious, they remain open to learning, and they love people. If they don't travel, they may simply move around in their respective communities, or have people come to them. They are the very embodiment of the saying that goes something like: and they remained alive all the days of their lives. As opposed to those who start dying even while they are in their 40's, 50', or 60's. They just stop living. Growing old became a bad habit.

But perhaps more important than everything else, is the realization that most of it has to do with an inner attitude - and that of course includes being very conscious, assuming responsibility for your own happiness and having some sense of purpose and meaning in your life. As long as that attitude - towards aging, towards always continuing to learn (and the endless neuroplasticity of the brain), even if you're 99, and towards life in general - remains young, there is no reason to be old. André Maurois wrote: Growing old is a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form.

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