Never before has our society and the world contained such a large percentage of people over 50. This has not always been the case. According to the UN Population Division, 1 in 5 people are expected to be 65 or older by 2035. This rapid growth is due to the aging of the Baby Boom generation. Today, one in three people is now 50 or older. However, we wouldn’t know it by looking at how women are represented by the media and fashion world.
In many ways, we still live in a western culture that teaches us to see getting old and ageing as an undesirable incident. I once read an article that stated "A 2006 global study conducted by Dove, entitled Beauty Comes Of Age, found that nearly six in 10 women believe that while men over 50 are viewed as distinguished, women over 50 are viewed as over the hill or past their prime". When you think about it, isn't that a crazy notion?
As a woman who is over 50, I can tell you that I certainly don't feel over the hill or past my prime. I do believe that 'we are only as old as we feel'. When we feel old and weak, we act like we are old and weak. Life doesn’t have to be like that. If you ask me.... getting older isn't inexorable, inevitable, or a riddled-with-tragedy disaster that we’re all led to believe. We can look at our life now as a time of growth instead of inevitable decline.
In other words, 40, 50 and 60 are just numbers, stages of life that don't have to be a physical reality. After all, what does 50 or 60 or 70+ really look like today? It surely isn't the picture we have of previous generations! From my perspective, 50, 60 and older can look fabulously generative if we choose to function beyond the limitations of this reality that everybody else lives from. We have to be willing to abandon and dismiss the common viewpoint about aging that has been defined by other people. That means choosing to create a reality that is beyond anything else we see and beyond the limitations everybody else lives from.
The reality is that we really are only as old as we feel and as young as we think we are. Recent research on ageing discovered that self-perceptions of aging influence physiological outcomes. The studies confirmed that the way we think and feel about ourselves and our lives really matters. Most of the things we consider as inevitable consequences of aging (e.g., diminished energy, physical strength and endurance, memory and other cognitive abilities, etc.) are significantly influenced by our perceptions and mind-set. It isn't how old we are but how old we feel. It is our awareness, our mindsets, our talents, the creativity and our generosity of spirit we bring to our life and the lives of others. When we learn to tap into this source, we will truly create different possibilities.
We are responsible for our own life, our own reality, our own achievements, and our own happiness. It’s really about our attitude, outlook, and points of view - in other words, mind over matter. If we feel young at heart, there’s no reason why our outside can’t match our inside. So, reflect on this question - How old do you think you are if you didn't know when you actually were born?
There is a completely different way of viewing things and a completely different way of being in the world. It's all about looking at life and reality from a slightly different point of view. We don't have to take on the limited points of view that other people buy into. We can choose differently. When we can see getting older for what it is, we never contract our awareness and there is the sense of having a choice. Sometimes judgment about getting older and aversion to aging sets us back. What if getting older and aging is not lost youth but a new stage of great and different possibilities?
"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
That quote from Eleanor Roosevelt was a transformative insight for me. I have realized for a long time that I was responsible for my life, but the idea of seeing myself as a work of art is so much more fun and rewarding. That’s where the magic happens. Where the sparks fly. Where the new and different possibilities bloom. How does it get any better than this?