“How to stay young”? No. How to grow old well.

This topic has been popping up on my radar a lot lately. From my mother who at 67 hates growing older and resents all the associated the changes in mind and body, to television documentaries called “how to stay young”, and “beauty” products that claim to wipe ten years from your age. We live in a society, sadly, where growing old is BAD. Growing old is seen as unsightly, ugly, a nuisance, an unfortunate necessity. 

“It happens to us all”………. now that is an interesting statement and one which is the basis for my post. It doesn’t actually happen to us all. Very sadly it is a period of life denied to many of us who are taken too soon. From babies, children, teens, young adults, and adults too – many never have the chance to grow old. It is so easy as a society to appreciate this as very sad, very heartbreaking and very wrong, yet we still absolutely loathe the aging process and cannot cope with ourselves getting older or seeing others get old. Makes no sense!

I’m 36, soon to be 37, so I’m well aware the big 40 is looming. My sister recently turned 40 which was an odd one as she always seems about 19 to me!  Just as my “wee” brother always seems about 8. He’s 32. It feels “natural” to dread turning 40, which is really not how it should be. I guess I’ve grown up surrounded by an ageist culture and media that glorifies youth. I can’t help that unfortunately, but I need to turn this around mentally in my head, because growing old is something to be celebrated, to be held up proudly and shouted about… “I’M FOURTY AND I LOVE IT!!!!” sounds odd but we must embrace this gift of life (that sounds way too cheesy but you get my meaning!).  

Birthdays are truly a way to celebrate that we’ve been blessed with another year of life, and really those celebrations should get bigger as we get older, not smaller or more embarrassing and awkward as they seem to be.  How many times do you hear on the radio a “shout out” from a husband to a wife for a birthday – but – oh no! – don’t reveal her AGE!!! How terrible would that be?! How incredibly embarrassing to let the world know that your wonderful wife has reached an amazing 40 years of life!  Note that it’s usually the wife in the background who makes sure her husband keeps shtoom.

So with all this in mind, I happened upon a book in Tesco called “The Longevity Book” about this very subject. It’s about how to age well both physically and mentally.  Not a self help book, and certainly not a guide to staying young.  It’s more about how to understand and enjoy the aging process. The author? Cameron Diaz. I’m often wary about celebrity books, but the fact that she wrote it actually sparked my interest more as I vividly remember seeing her interviewed on TV many years ago, and she talked about the same subject, “if you’re in your 30s, ladies, and  worried about getting old, start doing something about it NOW” – I’m paraphrasing, it was along those lines, but it stuck with me probably because I was about to turn 30. If you’re interested in this subject, do look it up >> The Longevity Book 

To sum up, if you’re a 30-something, a 40-something, or older, or heck, even a 20-something, dreading hitting that next milestone… stop and think about it for a second, and maybe you’ll see life in a new light. Your mind has aged too – you are wiser, and more experienced in everything you do. Celebrate!!

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