During the 1500-1800s, the average person lived to be 30-40. Today, the average person lives to be 78-80. But even though our life expectancy has doubled, we are still fearful of aging and “getting old.” We fear that aging will only bring health conditions and make us irrelevant.
“We live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we are not young, and we’re not glowing, and we’re not hot, that we don’t matter. I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter.” –Oprah Winfrey
Aging is a normal and natural part of life. It is not something to be feared, and here are a couple reasons why:
It’s all about perspective
To an 8-year-old, 16 sounds like being “old” and an “adult.” To a 30-year-old, 50 sounds more like getting over a mountain than a hill. And to a 90-year-old, 50 sounds like infancy. Age is all about your perspective.
“When I was in my twenties, the fifties and late forties sounded ancient! Now I’m rapidly approaching that, and I don’t feel ancient. I think that the toughest part is letting go of the past. But the easiest part is this feeling that this is who I am,” Brooke Shields told PEOPLE.
Aging gives us something money can’t buy
One of the beautiful benefits of aging is the wisdom that comes with time. It’s something no one can buy for you or take away from you. With each experience in life, (fun or challenging), you learn something new. Whether it’s building a career, a business, your family, or a new skill/hobby, life teaches us through time and experience
“Staying involved and passionate and curious helps one remain youthful for sure. There’s the chronological issue [of age]; and chronologically, I could well be dead by now… But spiritually and energetically, I feel younger than when I was 20 and 30,” Jane Fonda told The Los Angeles Times.
Healthcare is on our side
Thanks to advances in science and technology, we can treat and cure illnesses that used to end lives prematurely. From access to clean water and sanitation, to immunizations and new technology, advances in healthcare are the main reason our life expectancy has doubled in the last 500 years, according to VeryWellHealth.
And, we are still make breakthroughs in science today. Not just to increase our lifespan, but to raise our quality of life. There are new, life-changing treatments for health conditions that used to be ignored like menopause, sexual dysfunction and incontinence.
Also, new research showed that cyclists in their 80s have the same immune system as 20-year-olds cyclists. (How cool is that?) Healthcare is on our side when it comes to aging because we are not only living longer, but we are living better and healthier.
“There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you’re a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life,” wrote Diane von Furstenberg in her memoir, The Woman I Wanted To Be.
Tying it all together
Sometimes we fear something simply because it’s unknown. We’d don’t know exactly what will happen or who we will be in 5, 10, 15 years. And that’s okay!
Whether you’re 18 or 85, it’s never too late to make new healthy habits. If you don’t like the trajectory of your life, we have a secret: you can always change your life. It starts with your attitude—if you have a healthy attitude, it will guide you to make healthy decisions.
Next time you start to fear getting older (whatever that means!) remember this: Aging is a normal and natural process; it’s something we all go through.
“When I’m 90 years old and sitting in a gloriously beautiful beach house somewhere on this planet with five or six Chinese Crested Yorkies, surrounded by all my goddaughters who will at that point be middle-aged, I’ll be just as happy.” — Stevie Nicks told The New York Times