10 Steps to Ageing Positively
Every decade of life has its pluses and minuses, it gives and takes away. Yet the image of later life is one of unmitigated loss:- loss of vitality, loss of work, loss of status, loss of functioning and loss of loved ones. And while it is true that we will experience loss, there are also many gains that come with age. A quick list of some of the things I’ve gained with age would include:-
Wisdom. It’s the age of the sage.
Confidence. Adding confidence to abilities makes for a powerful combination.
Gravitas, authority, presence. People might not look at me the way they used to but they listen more.
Authenticity. I have a sense of who I am and what’s important to me. As the French put it, “Je suis bien dans ma peau.” I feel good in my skin.
Strength. I am much more resilient. I have a core strength. I’m no longer knocked sideways by what life throws at me.
Social capital. I have a gained a rich network of friends.
Happiness. Research shows that people suffer less depression and anxiety and once you’re through the mid-life low, life starts to get happier. Good news indeed.
To celebrate being named as one of 8 women who are rewriting the rules about ageing in the Sunday Telegraph, I’m happy to present the 10 steps to ageing positively from the workshops that I run with Guy Robertson. These are courtesy of his book, How to Age Positively and are all based on research.
Set your intention to age positively: If you want to achieve something in later life, you need to be clear in your mind about what you want to accomplish. Think through what ‘ageing positively’ means to you and you are more likely to achieve it
Find out what you believe about your own ageing: Beware the self-fulfilling prophecy. You become what you believe. Surface those negative beliefs about later life.
Replace negative or unhelpful beliefs with positive ones: Challenge the negative stereotypes about age and seek out positive role models.
Create a positive mental image of yourself: Come up with a strong, positive and attractive mental image as an older person. Use visualisation to picture yourself positively in later life
Maximise your optimistic outlook: Challenge pessimism about the third age by practising optimism. Optimists not only have greater physical and psychological well-being, they also have greater longevity.
Increase your sense of gratitude: Later life does bring losses so cultivate your ability to notice what you do have rather than what you don’t.
Be mindful and experience the present moment: Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment without judgement. Regular practice of this form of meditation has powerful benefits for mental health.
Undertake a life review: Reflecting on the past helps us extract wisdom from our past, make peace with the negatives and savour the positive.
Establish what is most important to you: Identify what gives your life meaning and this will help you to a fulfilling later life.
Develop a life plan for your later years: Come up with a concrete plan of action which enables you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Book a Positive Ageing workshop for your organisation or group.