What Is Your 2022 Mindset About Aging?
For some people, ushering in a new calendar year includes thinking about past mistakes and resolving to do and be better. And although I get sentimental reflecting on cherished moments of the past year at the playing of Auld Lang Syne, I do not make New Year resolutions.
I believe each day is an opportunity for a fresh start and a time to make intentional choices that will help me become a better version of myself. One way I do this is by focusing on helpful thoughts. I ask myself how I’m feeling about what I’m thinking or saying. If I’m not feeling good, I reframe my thinking.
Too often mindsets on aging only focus on the negative. And this past year, statements like “I’m getting old”, “it’s only downhill from here”, and “getting old sucks” seemed more common than ever among some of those who I interact with. They were quick to blame any new pain, lack of focus, problem or bad circumstance on their age.
I guess I can’t fault them. We’ve all been taught that aging is not good.
Throughout our lives, we observe people and society projecting negative, fear-provoking, and false messages about aging. We even experience this in conversations we have with each other. We see it on TV and in movies, social media, and the news. It impacts laws, policies, practices, and culture. It is even reflected in the design of our buildings and green spaces.
So by the time we approach our older decades, we have accumulated so many negative impressions of aging in our subconscious thinking that we automatically use words and phrases that project aging as bad, such as “ugly” and “in decline.” And what’s scary is that adults in their 30s and 40s are even negatively commenting on their aging.
When we believe these messages, we are at risk of losing the ability to do the very things we have always succeeded in doing because these misconceptions weaken our motivation to accomplish them. This keeps us from having the best aging experience possible.
We settle for life as it is, accepting the barriers that keep us from living more easily in our homes and communities. Some people loudly deny and reject growing older by funneling a tremendous amount of time, money and energy into finding ways to stop the clock until a cure for aging is found.
But neither settling nor denying are okay. Both damage our sense of self, shorten our lifespan, limit our opportunities, and prevent us from thriving.
Studies show that, on average, people with positive self-perceptions of aging can live 7.5 years longer! These individuals also enjoy better functional health because they practice more preventive health behaviors, like attention to diet, exercise, and taking medicine as prescribed.
What will your aging mindset be for 2022?
My hope is that you’ll make it a year to focus on the possibilities. View the glass as half-full and embrace the upside of aging.