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Seven Reasons We Should Be Amazed About Getting Older

Seven Reasons We Should Be Amazed About Getting Older

By Gary Allen Foster 

“Getting old is for the birds!”

That’s one of the dozens of ageist statements tossed out casually when a group of seventh-, eighth-, or ninth-decaders assembles. Each is usually followed by a litany of the issues that can make it seem so.

Nary a conversation goes by without multiple mentions of knee/hip/shoulder replacements, this or that type of surgery, arthritis, back pain, bunions, hearing aids, loneliness, ad infinitum.

What if one flipped the conversation and started brainstorming what is amazing about getting older?

While I suspect the audience would thin pretty quickly (physically or mentally) and the instigator tagged as beyond strange, isn’t the idea worthy of consideration?

After all, what is there to lose? What’s the worst thing that could happen?

The worst thing would be that some would simply continue in their funk, incapable of a change in mindset. And you or I, as the instigator, will have weakened a relationship that wasn’t helping us move forward anyway.

Call me pollyannish, but I think it’s worth a try the next time you find yourself with a group of naysayers.

Some people just won’t want to hear that there is a positive channel of thought about growing older. Should you choose to accept this assignment, be prepared for pushback.

Here are seven amazing things about aging that you can toss into a sagging, ageist conversation to turn it into one more uplifting and worthy of your time.

Freedom of Thought

Haven’t we reached the point, in our late-50’s and beyond, where our thoughts are fully ours and we no longer need to bend to other people’s opinions, to comparisons, corporate guidelines, policies, procedures, plans not of our making?

We bring forward credibility based on life experiences unique to us. We’ve paid significant prices and learned some deep lessons. We’ve sorted out and rejected a lot of the dumbness of our culture. We’ve made more than our share of silly mistakes but now realize that life is a series of experiments and there is no failure in life, only research and development. It’s brought us to this unique and powerful place with the power to have our thoughts translate to gain for others.

We’re free to express ourselves knowing that we bring value based on our learning and our experiences but that we have no control over whether anyone else aligns with us.

We’re free to accept who we are which is little more than the thoughts we allow to take hold every day. “As a man thinketh, so is he”. We are free to either let our thoughts bring us down or build us up. At this point, we have much more positive to build on than we may realize or acknowledge.

Time Freedom

At last, we are mostly in control of our time. We can take Socrates’ advice and “avoid the barrenness of a busy life.” No alarm clock, no commute, no deadlines, no meaningless meetings.

We are more sage in our appreciation of time, having wasted so much of it in earlier decades. We have better filters of what counts and what doesn’t. We are less apt to worry about what others think when we say “no” – and we say no more often.

We say “yes” now to more things that are important and fewer things that are urgent.

And if an afternoon nap feels right, we can do it because, well, we’ve got the time and it matters not if someone says there are better things to do with our time.

An Opportunity To Be Generative

We can pay it forward and help the generations behind us. We can do our part to extend the evolution of what’s right in life. We’re done with the selfishness of accumulation and comparison and can turn to the selflessness of sharing our wisdom and material wealth by helping those that follow.

We can turn this period of our lives from aging to sageing. Thus, a backward glance is a good one, not one filled with regrets. Someone – maybe even many – will say “s/he was a light on my path at a time that I needed it.

Live Stress-Free

Now we can relax into our worthiness. We’re done striving to compete; other’s opinions of us no longer release unnecessary cortisol; we’ve learned that worry is useless and that few things that we worry about ever happen. If they do, they are rarely as troublesome as we expected.

So we can settle into an experience-based mindset that responds only to those things over which we have control and don’t waste energy on the things we can’t.

We accept the inevitability of dying and that it is part of life. We no longer fear it. We know it’s coming but that we don’t need to rush its arrival by stressing over it.

We Can Help Change The World

We’re sage now – we know the planet and the human experience are in trouble. And we know why. With calmness and confidence and lack of concern about condemnation, we can take the right message about change to the world, one person, one encounter at a time.

We have an acquired appreciation for the state of our planet and have observed the damage that humans can cause. We’re done accumulating, done with impression-motivated consumption. Through our lifestyles, we can demonstrate that the planet doesn’t have to suffer for us to enjoy and appreciate life.

We can retest Gandhi’s guiding principle: “Be the change we want to see in the world”. We’ve learned that we can’t change others and that motivation is an “inside job.” But, by our example, we can be an inspiration to others to be what we are, want what we have and to kickstart that motivation.

We Can Restore Respect For The Elderly

We’ve grown up in and endured the derision that our culture places on older people. We’ve been on the receiving end of an evolution away from respect for the elderly that existed a mere 150 years ago. We’ve witnessed the magnitude and folly of overemphasis on youth.

By our example of good health, vitality, shared wisdom, and our open stand against ageism, we can be a new light of reason and logic in an often dark, unreasonable, and illogical society.

We Can Become “Truth Agents

We’re good at filtering out the truth in situations. We’ve got nothing to lose by exposing it and telling it like it is. We can effect change by taking a stand on what we know is reality, the real truth. In our wisdom, we know that “methods and techniques may change, but principles never do” and that a life worth living is guided by these ancient and immutable principles. We are not afraid to stand behind them, live them and teach them. And watch truth change the world we live in.

Our experiences enable us to be “positively skeptical”. We are good now at filtering the “wheat from the chaff” when it comes to truth. We are skeptical about much of what evolves around us and push new developments through our well-developed filters.

We aren’t easily swayed from our position now when we know what is true. We aren’t afraid to take a stand, realizing that it’s better to stand on the truth than to give in to public opinion half-truths.

Getting old is not the same as aging.

Growing old gracefully requires resilience. It requires an “attitude with altitude” that is grateful on a daily basis. It requires knowing that growing old is inevitable but that how we grow old is optional.

And, ultimately, it requires being in service to others, paying forward what we’ve learned, passing on our wisdom.

Therein may lie the true joy of growing older.

Gary Allen Foster is executive recruiter, retirement and career transition coach, writer, and speaker. He shares his thoughts about aging and retirement on his blog – Make Aging Work.

This post was originally published on Make Aging Work and reprinted with permission.

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