This morning, while visiting my Dad’s Facebook wall, I began reading through a list of his favorite quotations. One quote in particular caught my eye and resulted in the writing of this article. The quote reads “Age is a matter of mind; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” -Mark Twain.
Do you sometimes wonder who that older person is looking back at you in the mirror? Ever find yourself thinking, “How did I get all these wrinkles?” Feel like your body has become a science project gone awry?
In today’s youth-focused culture, aging is viewed as something to be fought off as long as possible. For many of us, growing old can feel like a threat to our self-worth, our confidence, and even our very identity; but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Growing older is an inevitable and—dare I say—beautiful fact of life. From our first breath to our last, we’re here to experience, to grow, and to learn. With the right mindset, aging can become an incredible gift—one that is full of wisdom, strength, purpose, adventure, and more and more fun.
It’s funny how as children, we can’t wait to grow up. We count the days to our birthdays, daydream about blowing out all those candles, and delight in all the presents. Yet, as we move through our 20s and 30s, and the dreaded 40s, many of us start to cling to the lower numbers and begin to dread each passing year. Unfortunately, this all too common mindset is a recipe for unhappiness, stress, and hopelessness. The more we long for the years gone by, the less we’re able to enjoy the present, which is where all of our power is.
I can still vividly remember the first time I looked in the mirror only to discover that two crevices had suddenly appeared around my mouth. At 32, I’d just started to feel like I’d come into my own and my life had more purpose than ever before. I was getting ready to meet a friend for coffee and going about my usual routine of getting ready. I went to the mirror to put on some makeup and discovered these two seemingly gigantic wrinkles that seemed to have appeared in the midst of only a few hours. Who was this person with these smile lines? What was going on?
I felt a bit stressed and somewhat worried about this new discovery. Of course, I knew that I wouldn’t have the glowing skin and firm booty of a twenty-something forever, but up to that point in my life, aging seemed like a distant thing. My initial stress and shock wasn’t so much about getting wrinkles as it was about facing the reality of my mortality. In that moment, it hit me–just like everyone else, I was going to get old and my body would eventually die.
We’ve all had moments like this. While difficult, they also empower us to grow and change our perceptions. Yes, our physical bodies are going to die, which is a difficult truth to accept. But, with this acceptance comes greater power and a stronger connection to the Divine.
When I look back on that moment, staring in the mirror, I can see that it was one of life’s mini wake-up calls. Once I embraced those two new lines and the fact that I was indeed getting older, I was finally able to make the shifts I needed and wanted to make in my life. I was able to clarify my purpose and finally had the courage to walk that path. Embracing aging has inspired me to cultivate a deeper connection with God and become more dedicated to living fully in the moment.
Now, well into my 40s, I celebrate each passing year—and each new smile line—with more enthusiasm than the last. I practice moderation and make it a point to consciously love and accept my body, flaws and all! I have wasted far too much time berating myself for my weight, gray hair, and wrinkles. I have learned that loving myself, with all my perfect imperfections is the key to aging gracefully.
OK, you might be thinking, “But Anne, I just can’t get over the flaws I see in the mirror.” Or, “There’s no way I can embrace my age with all my health problems.” Or, “I’ve made so many mistakes and have so many regrets, happiness and adventure at my age is impossible.”
The truth of the matter is: We are all getting older; it’s just a matter of whether we decide to do so with passion and purpose or to do so kicking and screaming!
When you refuse to accept your age or continually loathe yourself upon glancing in the mirror, you end up stuck in a place where there’s no learning or growing because you’re so focused on the past. (To remind you again, there is no power in the past or future—only the present.) Obsession with the past only prevents you from experiencing joy in the present, and planning something better in the future. It just keeps you unhappy and stuck in your mind. The more you dwell, the more time gets away from you; before you know it, you’re sleepwalking through each day, losing the valuable time you do have while you’re fixating on the time gone by.
Ultimately, when you choose to embrace the process of aging, you tap into the incredible power of the present to co-create the purposeful and authentic life you desire. Moreover, with that positive change in mindset, you’re bound to look and feel better, happier, and possibly even a bit younger.