Welcome to September. The month of my 60th Birthday. Am I depressed about getting old? No!
Does it worry me how quickly time is passing? No. Am I enjoying my life? Yes, well most of it. Age is just a number. It’s how you approach the situations your mindset that determines the outcome. I work with many different ages and I have been surprised over the years how they have let their weight ( A Number) Their age ( A number) define them. Age is really only a number, your weight is just a number, that’s all. It has no limitations! The only limitations are the ones you set for yourself.
Age is just a number, to which many have attached great significance. Somehow, it’s given more meaning than it should. And, why not, the world around us, with its prevailing cultural beliefs and social norms, reinforces this harmful thinking. Every day, even down to the language we are exposed to it. From headlines that include words like the elderly or senior when referring to older people to the very definition of aging. It feels as if we are subliminally taught that aging is somehow negative. It’s something to be endured or something that makes us less capable. So, what can you do? Don’t buy the mindset in the first place.
Change Your Mindset
From the moment we are born, we begin to age. It’s inevitable. But, reaching a certain age doesn’t mean you become invisible. While we can’t stop the aging process, we can influence how well we age. Sure, chronologically speaking, age is just a number, and that you cannot change. But, what you can change is your mindset.
“You’re only as old as you feel.” As sentiments go, this one has its flaws, as if feeling old is your fault. However, as it turns out, whoever coined this term may have actually been onto something! The point is, age is subjective! A positive attitude and a healthy active lifestyle can keep you young!
The Optimism Effect
Age is really only a number, that’s all. It has no limitations! The only limitations are the ones you set for yourself. It’s like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Those who are fearless, never grow old.
Those who dare to become their truest version will find a deeper purpose in life. And, when life has a purpose, time has no boundaries. When time has no boundaries, age really is just a number!
In a world that often defines and limits people by age, when you believe anything is possible at any time, there is nothing that can stop you… not even your age. It’s never to late.
What do you want to do with the next part of your life? Do you want to focus on your development? Start a new business or career? Improve your health and well-being, or volunteer? No matter what it is, you choose to do, don’t let your age stop you.
How old do you feel? When asked that question, most of us tend to give a number which is a good few years younger than our actual age. I certainly feel younger than my chronological age says I am, and I’m sure you do too. After all, ‘you’re only as old as you feel’, right?
It’s interesting that when we are thinking about ourselves, age becomes just a number and feels somewhat meaningless. However, the positive way we tend to see our own age, doesn’t always translate to how we perceive, or even judge the age of others. We’re all guilty of it. I’m sure at some point, you’ve unwittingly, and with the best of intentions, said gushingly to an older relative or friend, “you look great for your age” or, at work, perhaps have automatically assumed your ‘older colleague’ won’t know how to use the latest technology – all because their chronological age is numerically higher than your own. Somehow, they are ‘old’, while you assume you are ‘young’. How come?
The world around us, with its prevailing cultural beliefs and social norms, reinforces this harmful thinking every day – even down to the language we’re continuously exposed to. For instance, in the UK, at the young age of 60, you can apply for an ‘older persons’ bus pass – that’s actually what it’s called, and I am eligible for one very very soon, even though I do not regard myself as an ‘older person’! While enjoying your morning coffee, leafing through your newspaper (or scrolling online), you’ll probably be confronted with an array of attention-grabbing headlines including the words ‘pensioner’, ‘elderly’ or ‘senior’ when referring to older people. It feels as if we are subliminally taught that ageing is somehow negative, something to be endured, something that makes us less capable – both in our personal and our working lives.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) as soon as 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to double to two billion. Given the world is getting older, it’s about time we start to tackle the underlying ageism that is so prevalent in our society and, thus, in many of our workplaces. After all, whether we like it or not, we are all growing older as each day passes – there’s no getting away from that. So, if we don’t start to make a change now, in 30 years’ time, our children and grandchildren will have to endure the same ageist attitudes that we are facing today.
So, can we do it? Well, think of all the commendable strides we’ve made towards challenging biases around gender, race and socioeconomic status over the last decades. While more needs to be done in these areas, it’s hard to deny that we’ve come a long way. It’s time we started seeing ageism as the issue that it is. After all, if we really want to make the world in which we live and work in as inclusive as it can be, we need to change the narrative and embrace the views, skills and perspectives of all the voices around us – regardless of whether they sound different, or how many years they’ve been around for.
Are we unknowingly sitting on a ‘demographic time bomb’?
I’m sure many of you will be dismayed (and quite rightly so) that the WHO classifies an ‘older or elderly person’ as 65 or older. Most of my friends, family and colleagues, whom, according to WHO, are ‘older or elderly’, are living healthy and fulfilled lives, inside and outside of work. Yes, that’s right, most are still working in some capacity.
In fact, just over a year ago, I read a piece in the paper, suggesting that retirement could soon be a thing of the past. Why? Simply put, there is a seismic demographical shift going on in front of our eyes as we are all living healthier, longer lives. We will have far more time than any other previous generation before us to do the things that fulfil us, both inside and outside of work.
But, if our negative attitudes towards getting older persist, we risk seeing this extra healthy and productive time, time that we all have ahead of us, as a negative, not the positive that it is. It’s time therefore to better realise that age is just a number and not a definition, and proactively challenge the biases around age that we all have buzzing around in our heads.
I am going to continue this next month when I will be 60. I will see you then but will it be with my pipe and slippers or will it be with a new sense of excitement toward the future. Join me and you will see for yourselves.
Until next month
Stay safe, Stay Healthy
Jon Adkin BAHyp Clinical Hypnotherapist and IEMT Practitioner.
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