People have various mind-sets about growing older. Some want to avoid thinking about aging for as long as possible, while others see it as a negative passage that must be endured. To set an ideal mid-life into motion, you need a positive outlook.
A study of 660 adults ages 50 and older from an Ohio community, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, revealed that people with positive attitudes about aging live more than seven years longer than those with negative attitudes.
While the results remain to be confirmed by other researchers, the study links positive outlook and good health. For example, depression has been linked to poorer recovery from heart attacks and stroke. And having a positive outlook in general in your early 20s predicts survival well into your 80s and 90s.
Studies like these don’t have to convince many people that life is a heck of lot easier for those with a positive attitude. For me, over the years, the following mind-set has helped me approach older age with gratitude.
• Accept yourself. Low self-esteem and self-confidence are common, but beauty is defined by qualities rather than by physical traits. The act of accepting yourself may seem hard, but you can do it. Do not allow your flaws to govern your heart and future.
• Surround yourself with positive people. Hang out with people who feed your soul – the ones who you appreciate and look up to. Make sure they feel the same way about you. Positive types give us a sense of well-being.
• Do things you love and make time for self-care. Find a hobby such as cooking, gardening, painting or reading. It will help you feel connected and less stressed.
• Express your feelings. Discuss how you feel with someone you like and trust. Never bottle your feelings up. Communicating helps us process our emotions and move on with a clearer and happier mind. If you prefer, keep a journal and write your feelings down.
• Appreciate the little things. If you give too much energy to your big problems, you’ll stress and ignore the little things that make living so pleasurable. Make every experience a learning experience – even failures.
• Ponder life’s big questions. Who am I on this journey for? What will it take to love myself? What sacrifices am I making for good health?
• Live each day knowing there’s plenty to go around. Believe in and trust yourself. Focus on what you can do right now to be your best self instead of correcting the past.
The takeaway: Trust yourself. Be open. Acknowledge fear and do it anyway.
Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at seniorcare.com.