Aging gracefully. Is it possible?
Today I am “celebrating” a landmark birthday and for a few weeks now I have been thinking a great deal about aging and mortality – and all the existential-type questions that come with the territory.
I also have a number of clients who wrestle with these issues in my therapy room. Questions that are asked include “what is the purpose and meaning of my life?” and “how do I cope with aging and my own death?” There is often a great deal of anxiety and fear associated with the thought of one’s inevitable physical decline and possible ill-health and the suffering associated with this. Issues around dependency and vulnerability are common.
Most of us don’t like to dwell on these issues too often or too long as they tend to evoke strong negative feelings. Often they can be successfully pushed aside when life is going along well and there is much to occupy one’s day and one’s mind. However, such questions cannot be ducked successfully forever and become especially salient when we experience turning -points in our lives. The mid-life crisis is a case in point!
Is there a good way to cope with aging?
Psychologists who are proponents of “Health Psychology” and “Positive Psychology” speak about the concept of “Successful Aging”. There is an emphasis on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and an optimistic and positive mindset.
Of course it is not possible to be happy and upbeat 24/7. However, it is possible to work on the adoption of an attitude to life based on a sense of awe, curiosity and gratitude. Mindfulness and meditation are also strongly recommended.
Strangely enough this often becomes easier to achieve the older one gets. Research has found that older adults tend tho be happier than adults in their late twenties and early thirties, possibly because there is more time to smell the daisies and there is the realization that Life is unpredictable and finite and that we need to appreciate every day!
I would also suggest planning well ahead of time for the last and possibly most challenging period of life even though this is quite a daunting prospect!
So yes – I am happy to say that I am succeeding in having a lovely birthday!
Tags: Successful Aging
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