“Ageism is prejudice against our own future selves.” -Ashton Applewhite
We see the phrase “anti-aging” everywhere. It’s obviously at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
But newsflash: we’re all aging.
There isn’t anything you can do to stop it.
And yet all we hear about are the negative aspects of aging. And this constant push to try to put a stop to a process that’s an inevitable aspect of life.
It’s become painfully apparent we live in an ageist society.
If you look around, you’ll notice a pattern. Of all the advertising to buy products or services to “hide” the fact that we’re aging.
And the real danger here is our thought patterns dictate our actions. Both our individual actions and the actions of society. When you take a look around, it becomes obvious we’ve structured the world to discriminate against older adults. This TED Talk on ageism by Ashton Applewhite sums this up perfectly.
“Aging isn’t a problem or disease. Aging is living.” -Ashton Applewhite
The truth is you can’t stop aging, but you can choose how you age. By embracing aging rather than trying to outrun it, you can follow a realistic plan to age gracefully.
And if you think you’re too young to think about this, think again.
Once you realize how many ageist thoughts you harbor, it becomes a process of trying to undo decades of negative thought patterns. And this is the fault of the subliminal “anti-aging” messaging. On a cultural level, shifting away from these ageist thoughts will take the effort of several generations. But this shift happens by starting with your own thoughts.
Bring Awareness to Negative Thoughts You Have About Aging
This is the first step toward adopting a positive view of aging. You can’t change a problem you haven’t identified. So start today by noting negative thoughts about aging that run through your mind.
For example, thoughts like, “I’m getting too old to….”, “Isn’t he/she too old to be running for office?”, “Isn’t he/she too old to be taking care of the house anymore?”. This list is endless.
We get it set in our heads that one day we will become “too old” to do the things we love. But no one can define what that magical age is. Do you wake up one day and decide to stop doing daily activities? For most people, the answer is no. They gave things up over time due to ageist beliefs.
Also pay attention to how we, as a society, speak to and of older adults. We’ve all overheard older adults being called “cute”, “honey”, or “sweetie”. We talk to them in a sweet voice and speak at a higher volume, assuming they are all hard of hearing. If this is you, stop. And think about how you would feel if someone spoke to you this way.
Bring a Growth Mindset to Aging
Once you’ve identified negative thought patterns around aging, start to replace them positive thoughts. This will help you adopt a growth mindset when it comes to aging.
If you aren’t growing, you’re dying. There is not some age you reach in which you aren’t allowed to learn and grow as a person anymore. The more proactive you are about aging, the better it can be.
The fewer decades of damage you have to undo the better.
At some point, we’ve stopped associating aging with wisdom. The longer you’ve lived, the more time you’ve had to learn and grow. Don’t forget how much we can learn from our aging population.
It is possible to grow while aging, and the minute you change your narrative the whole world opens up.
So, stop chasing the “anti-aging” lifestyle and embrace an aging lifestyle of growth. Admit that yes, your body will change over time but wear it with a badge of honor. How can you change your thoughts on aging today?