Nobody who knows me would describe me as Pollyanna-like. I am definitely a realist and not naïve when it comes to understanding why aging is such a complex issue. I am negatively disposed, however, to all the pessimism around aging (ageing) and find myself more and more inclined to be contrary and exclaim the virtues of aging— positively.
Here’s a helpful definition of the concept provided by the Australian Psychological Society. “Positive ageing is a term used to describe the process of maintaining a positive attitude, feeling good about yourself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging fully in life as you age.”
When you dissect this definition, there are tips that are useful to all of us. Most of these factors, other than perhaps chronic health issues, are within our control or are directly influenced by how we approach life and live it.
- Stay connected with friends and family and find ways to develop new meaningful relationships. Surround yourself with those who love you or those who make you feel good about yourself. Avoid those relationships that undermine your self-esteem and self-worth. According to some studies, those of us who at age 50 see ourselves in a positive light live up to 7.5 years longer.
- Continue to learn, study, play new games, think! Our minds and our brains do not shrink or stagnate. This has been disproved with brain research on neuroplasticity. The brain is constantly rewiring itself and is not hard-wired the way we once thought. Through social connections and physical exercise and keeping up mentally, we can slow the decline of cognition by 5-10 years.
- Maintain health and fitness. Notwithstanding chronic debilitating illness, physical exercise helps preserve your balance and mobility, sustains your mental capacity, brings a more optimistic outlook. Through strength training, you can also reduce the loss of muscle mass.
- Adopt a positive mindset. Find ways to feel good about yourself and what you do. Make conscious choices about which places you visit and the activities you do. Ensure that you enjoy doing these rather than engaging in unpleasant situations. Reducing stress levels is critical to positive aging because stress may affect your immune system and cause illness. It also affects mental acumen.
Aging positively is about the quality of your life not the quantity although science now supports that a positive mindset will affect longevity as well. The Top 60 Over 60 is about creating that dynamic learning community that engages its members, builds new relationships, creates new ventures and enterprises all within a positive supportive environment.