I have better advice. Act the way you feel- that is a fine indicator of how well you're aging
We can be so quick to tell others to "act their age" when someone is being childish. While that makes some sense, allowing ourselves to be child-like is one of the great fountains of youth.
I may not be much of a fan- at least for myself- of being told to act my age since I am homing in on 70. That said, in this article I want to attack the assumption that first, there is a certain way to behave at any given point, and second, the way that our own internal clock can in so many ways change how swiftly we age into decrepitude.
Which, by the way, is not inevitable. That begins between our ears.
First, let me share Claudia Hammon's piece which inspired mine:
From the piece, here are some tidbits.
When asked when old age starts, here's how some folks' responses taught the researchers:
Answers varied of course, but what Kuper and Marmot found was that those people who thought old age began earlier were more likely to have had a heart attack, to be suffering from heart disease or be in poor physical health generally when they were followed up six to nine years later.
People who say that old age sets in at an earlier age may also be more fatalistic and less likely to seek help for medical conditions or to adopt healthier routines, believing that decline is inevitable. They may, for instance, assume that older people are frail and so deliberately start walking more slowly and taking it easy when this is exactly what they shouldn't be doing for the sake of their physical and mental health.
But here's the other piece, the one I live by:
...Becca Levy from the Yale School of Public Health, using data from the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement, also produced some extraordinary findings. The Ohio study had followed imore than a thousand people who were at least 50 at the time.
She found that people who had positive ideas about their own ageing (who agreed with comments such as "I have as much pep as last year" and who disagreed that as you get older you get less useful) lived for an average of 22.6 years after they first participated in the study, while the people who felt less positively about ageing lived for just 15 years more on average. (author bolded)
People who saw old age more positively, as a time to learn new things and make new plans, for example, lived longer on average
So. Act your age? Absolutely. I feel about 45 or 50. How do YOU feel?
We are so focused on being right about what we believe, if in fact we believe in our heart of hearts that we are SO OLD at thirty, then we are indeed old at thirty. This is a claim I see often on social media (gimme a break,please) and which cost us a talented woman who did in fact end her life at thirty:
While you and I might argue strenuously about mental illness, I wonder how much said "mental illness" is the result of talking ourselves into believing we are old when, in fact, we are truly still young?
Certainly Ms. Kryst, compared to me, was very very young. But somewhere in her psyche, and that of far too many of us, we have already decided we're old and useless. That is costing us joy, happiness, creativity, productivity, even lives.
To that then, let me point out (and this is a second posting in case you didn't see this the first time):
This has nothing to do with reality. This kind of ageism is based in the fear-mongering profiteering of American consumerism. One of my favorite topics, for as I age into my seventies, I am taking this on full-bore.
For I am bored to tears by claims of feeling old and useless at 29, on the cusp of being SO OLD at thirty.
Wait forty years, honey. Talk to us then, if you're still alive.
Age begins between the ears, and it stays there. So when we "act our age," we are in fact acting in accordance with how we feel about ourselves, our bodies, our lives.
You might find this intriguing as well, and you might also wish to track down other articles listed:
I act the age I feel. I have no relationship whatsoever with the number seven-zero. It is a weird concept for me, as my body doesn't function or respond or perform the way society expects. While it's a nice dopamine hit, I am told regularly, if asked my age, that I sure don't look it.
Well, thanks. That's not the point. The point is that I sure don't act it. I am energetic, walk WAY faster than most, have a grip like a linebacker and a hell of a sense of humor. I LOVE live. Laugh at the crap handed me. All that and more tend to project an image of vitality, and vitality is the wellspring of youth.
I am indeed almost the big 70. However, those around me who are closest to me are similar. They exercise, commit to better eating, don't smoke or drink, and surround themselves with like-minded people.
Here is one of them, a 54-year-0ld friend of mine:
While you may find bodybuilding ridiculous, at least two of the women on this stage are recovering from sexual assault. The woman in the middle in a silver suit lost 100 lbs to compete in this show. It is easy to mock. It isn't easy to do the work. ALL these women are well over forty. And you can bet that none of them feel old or act old. Physical effort like this helped me overcome sexual assault and incest, so I am a full-on fan.
A friend of mine, Maggie, is a scuba rescue expert and pilot, a painter and world traveler. Old? Nope.
Another friend of mine, Nurit Amichai, is a wonder at 75:
Here is a photo of Nurit at 48:
I could go on and on and on. If you scan Nurit's post you will see that it's NOT solely about the body beautiful. She focuses on the mind, the mindset, and as a Life Coach she works with people to turn their minds around, and that is what turns the life around. The rest is a lot easier when the garbage between our ears is cleared away.
I have many Saga supporters who are distance runners, who lift and push themselves. That is why I created the website Walkabout Saga. It isn't just about me, not at all. I draw from the vivid lives of people who choose to age vibrantly, finish strong, and do what it takes to live a very different kind of life than what is expected when someone tells us to
ACT YOUR AGE
If I did that, I'd be using a walker, hunched over, barely making it to the kitchen to make pies for the grandkids, and spending my time knitting afghans.
Instead, I choose this:
Social media is chock-full of age-related whining. I got in trouble with a bunch of people when I called out a recent Medium story that really truly got up my nose:
She was furious when I called out her ageism. She has every right to be so negative, but to my mind, when people continue to spread the rotten peanut butter about AIN'T IT AWFUL TO AGE when they are decades from any kind of decrepitude, I am going to call that out. Most especially when there are people like Nurit, who IS 75, and many of those in my immediate circle whose lives only truly took shape and form and deep direction after fifty or sixty.
Act your age? PHAH.
Act the age you feel. By my measure you are likely to add years to your life that way.
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