Angélique du Toit, who is working on a new book exploring the facets of getting older, debunking some of the myths aimed at women in particular. She sent in this post:
Attitude is one of the most significant factors that determine the quality of life. I am disheartened to observe the attitude of some of my peers towards getting older, allowing the rhetoric of society to color their experiences of the natural process of aging. It is why I was so thrilled to come across the upbeat nature of the stories of fellow travelers on We Are Ageist.
Cultivate a Positive Attitude Towards Aging
The word attitude has both a positive and a negative connotation. The negative aspect of attitude is reflected in the way society perceives older women in particular. There are also expectations of who we should be, look like, our dress code and, above all, our perceived age-related behavior.
Sadly, the media significantly influences the attitude of society towards aging. As older women it is necessary for us to be aware of the anti-aging messages and avoid colluding with their rhetoric. The beauty industry constantly bombards us with anti-aging lotions and potions to help stave off the process of aging. These messages reinforce the deep-seated cultural aversion to growing older. The media ensures we are made to feel guilty for aging. We are punished for losing our youthful appearance as aging is treated as a sin and we have transgressed!
The positive aspect of attitude is how we as older women choose to view life and the way in which we express and engage with life at a given age. Without recognizing it, women internalize the cultural fears associated with getting older. Sadly, many women bring about what they fear through their lifestyle and, critically, their attitude.
The Key to a Better Life
My approach to getting older reflects my philosophy of life in general, namely that our attitude is the most significant factor that will determine the quality of our experiences. I am delighted to have discovered a significant amount of research that supports this assertion. Aging with a positive attitude is therefore a recipe for better physical and mental health. Apart from the health benefits, having a positive attitude is also likely to ensure you have a healthy social life. After all, who wants to spend time with a grump?!
There is also a very practical reason why we need to pay attention to our attitude in life, particularly as we age. A significant body of research proves beyond doubt that a positive attitude about aging not only prevents future ill health, but that it also helps to keep the mind sharp and active. Research equally confirms that a negative attitude is likely to significantly contribute to both physical and cognitive frailty.
Cast Aside Fear
Having lived a number of decades with its myriad of experiences, life teaches us to become cautious. Fear creeps up on us as we grow up and age, curtailing our ability to be spontaneous and possibly even impulsive. However, it is imperative that we use logic and reason to assess these fears and challenge the perceived possible dangers that will probably never materialize. It’s a fact of life that occasionally we are dealt a bad hand, but our attitude will determine how we overcome such adversity and the lessons we take from the experience.
Vitality from Within
Attitude is a mindset; a choice that has a significant impact on the quality of our daily living. Furthermore, having an attitude of gratitude not only shifts our mindset, but it also serves as the lens required to find solutions to things we want to change. Being grateful means we have a more positive attitude to life in general. We always have the choice to reappraise negative situations or emotions in a positive light.
Gratitude results in higher levels of positive emotions, satisfaction with life, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. Such positive emotional outcomes lead to better physical health. Focusing on all those things in our lives to be grateful for boosts our happiness and our general sense of wellbeing.
I took the approach that my sixties were going to be my best decade ever. It is my intention to have a year long celebration of what I have termed the Swinging Sixties and take that belief with me throughout this decade. I am determined to rediscover my own unique eccentricity and encourage as many women as possible.
Angélique du Toit, is a writer living in North West England.