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12 Rules for Ageing Boldly

How to grow (b)older

silhouette of cheering woman hiker open arms at mountain peak
silhouette of cheering woman hiker open arms at mountain peak

1. Keep on learning and experimenting. The adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks isn’t even true of dogs. Novelty keeps you energised and engaged.

2. Cultivate strong relationships.

3. Draw inspiration from role models. Think Helen Mirren, David Attenborough or even Michelangelo, who rebuilt St Peter’s Basilica in his 80s.

4. Keep brain and body fit by exercising and eating right.

5. Channel Marie Kondo. If something – a job, a friendship, etc – no longer sparks joy, drop it. Streamline to make every moment count.

6. Find a purpose that puts meaning in your life and fire in your belly.

7. Be honest about your age. Lying gives the number a power it does not deserve – and reinforces the myth that younger is always better. Owning your age is the first step to making the most of it.

8. Remain flexible and open to change, growth and evolution. As Lao Tzu put it: “Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.”

9. Ignore the doom-mongers who say sex, love and romance belong to the young: they do not. Make room for all three however you old you are, if that’s what you fancy. 

10. If you think growing older will be bad, it will be bad. Be positive and focus on the upsides of ageing: feeling more at ease in your own skin; deeper relationships; more happiness, altruism, creativity, knowledge, productivity, experience.

11. Cultivate a sense of humour. Laughing boosts health and longevity.  As George Bernard Shaw put it: ‘You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”

12. Think about death. Don’t dwell morbidly on it, but don’t shy away from it, either. An awareness that time is finite gives life shape and meaning – and spurs you to make the most of here and now. 

Carl’s new book, Bolder: Making the Most of Our Longer Lives, is out now.

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