“Age is an Attitude and Not a Number”
Turns out that age really is an attitude and not a number. A January 2016 study, “Negative Perceptions of Aging,” shows that having positive self-perceptions about getting older can create a self-fulfilling prophecy that can help you stay mentally, physically, and psychologically younger.
This new study by researchers in Ireland reports that having a positive attitude about aging can help inhibit older adults from becoming weak, which in turn keeps their minds sharp. There is a reverse side of this as well. The research also concluded that holding negative attitudes about aging affect both physical and mental health in later years.
Lead researcher Deirdre Robertson described her team’s findings:
“The way we think about, talk about, and write about aging may have direct impacts on health. Everyone will grow older and if negative attitudes towards aging are carried throughout life they can have a detrimental, measurable impact on mental, physical and cognitive health.”
Self-Perceptions about Aging are Greatly Influenced by Society
It’s no surprise that we live in a society geared toward youth. We see it in magazines, on T.V, and we’re flooded with copious amounts of millennial information on social media platforms.
Youth is celebrated and that makes it easy to forget that there are other, equally important, sectors in society. It becomes especially vital to closely monitor our personal inner dialogues and thoughts about getting older.
The new study from Trinity College Dublin reminds us that when it comes to aging, “Attitude is everything.”
You Choose Your Attitude
It’s not easy aging and it’s not for the weak in spirit. It takes a strong person not to feel defeated when youth is splashed in our face at every turn. But aging can be powerful. There is something to be said for the accumulated wisdom we gain.
Wisdom is calculated by the number of steps that we journey in life. Never underestimate that journey. Personally, I’m substantially more comfortable in my own skin as an older adult. I have peace of mind and a sense of self-actualization that I didn’t know was possible as a young adult. A few less wrinkles would be nice but I wouldn’t trade the peacefulness for fewer wrinkles.
So if you are entering into a new era in your life, stay strong. Stay both mentally strong and physically strong because staying physically strong is key to stopping the ripple effect of physical weakening that is linked to poorer mental health in the aging process.
If you are feeling despaired, dejected, or depressed about getting older, it’s time to rethink your attitude.
A New Society
Hopefully this study will inspire thought leaders and those in the media to make more of an effort to present optimistic images of spirited older people. We can’t let society dictate how we feel about aging. We can’t give them that control and we can’t wait for society or the media to reverse their opinion overnight. You have to take control of your aging process and your self-perceptions.
You decide how to view aging.
Do you see it as being completely undesirable or do you focus on greater wisdom, peacefulness and other benefits?
The choice is yours.
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