When did it become a dirty word? Or was it always? A word that seems to conjure up feelings of insecurity, bringing up our mortality and maybe a flash of regret of things not accomplished? We have all seen all types of ‘Old’. The old who refuse to look old or act old. The old who look old but refuse to act old. The Old who act old but are blessed with not looking old. There are old who look old and act old but also embrace it as an age of relaxation, recreation, and reaping the benefits of decades of ‘work’.
We now have a billion-dollar industry that caters to suppress every symptom of ‘old’- From make-up to ‘support apparel’ to anti-aging nutrition to plastic surgery. Why does it threaten us so much?
Is it the health problems that it usually brings? But surely, we are not that concerned about our inner fitness. How many of us would trade looking good to feeling fit in a heartbeat? So then.. is it more important to be SEEN as young than really being young?
Is it the ‘slowness’ ?. I am not able to walk as fast as I used to. I am not able to work as hard as I used to. There is forced retardation to our erstwhile youthful pace. The joints creak. The back hurts. Is this what we dread?
Is it that point where the generations that came after you seem to be operating in a different world that you are not able to easily fit into, or even relate to in terms of technology, lingo, or living values?
Is it the passage of time that does not allow you to pursue certain things because the window of opportunity has closed? Beyond a point, you don’t get ‘do overs’, second chances. Are you grumpy at the generations that seem to have much more than you ever had?
Is it ‘that’ point where you feel you have nothing more to look forward to? Where every day is the same as every other day? And you wonder what is the point of this unending cycle of eating and sleeping every day?
‘Old ‘definitely seems to translate to loss of vitality, beauty, speed, vibrance. ..but above all, does ‘age’ scare us because it ultimately means loss of HOPE?
WELL… enough of this depressing line of thought…. THE TRUTH IS… an international study published in the journal of Psychological Science in 2020 interviewing 1.7 million people across the world, showed that “longitudinal and cross-sectional research has shown that levels of happiness remain relatively stable across the life span”. So basically, if you are capable of being happy at a young age, you will continue to be a happy person when you grow old and vice versa. So… Phew! Cheers to that! (The corollary is if we have not learnt to be happy till now, let’s do something about it)
And finally, being the self-help junkie that I am, I had to look up, how do we stay happy? Psychology Today recommends “Regularly indulging in small pleasures, getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself all increase life satisfaction. It isn’t happiness per se that promotes well-being, it’s the actual pursuit that’s key”
So one more time.. a reminder.. that it is the journey.. not the destination.