Bette Davis once said, in her classic no-nonsense way, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” She even had a sofa pillow embroidered with the quote for all her guests to see. Having just turned 60 myself, I’m beginning to believe wholeheartedly that Bette was spot-on with her message.
One comment I kept receiving on my birthday week was, “You look pretty good for 60.” What does that statement even mean? Is everyone supposed to look bad at 60? If I were 45 and look as I do now, would I look horribly worn out?
In addition to my physical appearance, all of a sudden people started talking to me about “joint pain” and other assorted bodily aches and pains. “So Sandy, how are your joints? Are you getting around okay?” I’ve never had that conversation in my entire life, and I didn’t feel the need to just because the calendar suddenly told me I was 60.
External age discrimination is a real problem in our culture, and in the workplace. It can contribute to who we believe we are and how we feel we are allowed to behave. Even more disconcerting, studies show that women are discriminated against more than men due to their physical appearance. According to one researcher at SUNY Buffalo,
“Older women may in fact experience more discrimination than older men, because physical appearance matters more for women and because age detracts more from physical appearance for women than for men.”
These negative messages can become a part of our subconscious mind if we allow it. However, we do have the power to choose and change our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to create our own positive and empowering reality that transcends age and social expectations.
According to an article published in the Indian Journal of Psychology,
“The biochemistry of our body stems from our awareness. Belief-reinforced awareness becomes our biochemistry. Each and every tiny cell in our body is perfectly and absolutely aware of our thoughts, feelings and of course, our beliefs. There is a beautiful saying ‘Nobody grows old. When people stop growing, they become old’. If you believe you are fragile, the biochemistry of your body unquestionably obeys and manifests it. If you believe you are tough (irrespective of your weight and bone density!), your body undeniably mirrors it. When you believe you are depressed (more precisely, when you become consciously aware of your ‘Being depressed’), you stamp the raw data received through your sense organs, with a judgment — that is your personal view — and physically become the ‘interpretation’ as you internalize it.”
What does this mean? It means you — not your age — are in control of how good you feel! Vitality comes from having a strong and positive mind that holds onto goals and dreams. Your body will respond to your mind, and as long as you keep your mind and heart young, your body will hold onto its youth and vigor as well. Expect good health and happiness, and you will create a reality that supports those thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
So yeah, old age ain’t no place for sissies. You’re up against a lot of obstacles, including your own worries and other people’s expectations of you as you age, but as long as you remember that you’re in control of your own well-being, you can succeed no matter how old the calendar tells you are. Hold on to you, and let go of what society says you should be. That takes guts.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on August 9, 2016.