Age does not define us. We define how we want to age.
— Sally Duplantier
Everyone hopes to age gracefully, but how many actually do? This is because most people often confuse “aging gracefully” with “looking young” and go to great lengths to look young by going under the knife at prosthetic makeovers.
Then there are those who choose to defy age with their vitality, zest and zest for life. They are ordinary people like you and me, yet they are a class apart. The hallmark characteristics of golden agers who have mastered the elusive art of aging gracefully are:
Positivity and joy: A few years ago we went to Europe with some city seniors. We traveled between countries by bus and often spent the long journeys singing songs or playing games. While a few grumpy old people grumbled along the way, there were a few who vehemently joined in the rejoicing and congratulated us on making the trip joyful. The American novelist Edith Wharton rightly said: “There are two ways to spread the light: to be the candle or the mirror which reflects it”.
Comfort with age-related issues: When you find yourself on the other side of 60, you are inevitably inconvenienced by a minor or major ailment. Those who know the art of aging gracefully overcome such obstacles, because it is the attitude that counts. They have already survived a million hardships – financial, family, emotional, psychological, work and maybe a few accidents – and consider themselves survivors. This is the attitude of seniors who have assumed their age. As a quote on the Internet says so well: “No one is immune to problems, only the packages are different.”
Having hobbies and activities: Participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, clubbing, and golf tends to keep you fit and in good spirits because exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive, happy feelings and reduce the perception of pain. My mother, who at 70 is doing what she never did in her youth – going to the movies and having picnics with friends, participating in fashion shows and beauty contests, singing her heart out and even shaking a leg whenever the opportunity arises.
Learning new skills: Age is just a number for people who want to learn, regardless of age. As Nobel Prize-winning American physicist Rosalyn Sussman Yalow says, “The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you learn, you are not old. Take model Dinesh Mohan, who at 62 is giving younger men a hard time and is one of the most sought-after male models in the fashion industry, which is known for its ageism.
Sharing their wisdom: A colleague of mine, after retiring, learned the basics of computing and started his own blog. Every few days he would share his wisdom with us via his blog. A number of older people are now sharing their academic and intellectual opinions through social media platforms and websites.
Discipline: A number of older people lead balanced and disciplined lives. They have a positive outlook on life. They eat healthy meals, regularly engage in yoga or other physical activity, engage in social outings with friends, and live life to the fullest. As the wise say, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
(The author is an associate professor at SD College, Ambala Cantt)