It ought to be a given that since we’re all aging, we should view it in a positive light. However, we live in a culture that triumphs youth and overrates it, truthfully. What if we looked mainly at all the good things about living another day (... month … year) on this beautiful planet. Fear of aging and even death often makes us afraid of life. That’s just wrong, don’t you think?
Many who have aged well before us offer models we can all learn from. Here are some thoughts from some very vibrant minds past and present. They offer wise words that tell a story of how they've been able to age wisely, and how we might follow their lead.
Only by owning who and what you are can you live in the fullness of life. Every year should be teaching us all something valuable. Whether you get the lesson is up to you. Every year brings you closer to expressing your whole and healed self. I celebrate that. Honor it. Hold it in reverence. And I'm grateful for every age I'm blessed to become.
Aging is a cause for celebration and the reality is that it's a non-stop adventure. That's what I enjoy. You really have two options in life: Die young or get old. The idea of dying young when you're 25 is kind of cool—a bit romantic, like James Dean. But then you realize that life is too much fun to do that. It's fascinating and wonderful every day.
This word ‘anti-aging’ has to be struck. I am pro-aging. I want to age with intelligence and grace and dignity and verve and energy. I feel more alive today than I ever have, even after COVID. I feel lucky to continually have had an opportunity to expand. I’m a late-in-life learner. I feel very fortunate that I’m having more creative opportunities.
When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you…If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster. That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.
Work helps prevent one from getting old. I, for one, cannot dream of retiring… The man who works and is never bored is never old. Work and interest in worthwhile things are the best remedy for age. Each day I am reborn. Each day I must begin again.
There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience. Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.
Aging is out of your control. How you handle it, though, is in your hands.... In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles, your face gets saggy. If you're a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I've taken. My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?
I just don't think of age and time in respect of years. I have too much experience of people in their seventies who are vigorous and useful, and people who are thirty-five, who are in lousy physical shape and can't think straight. I don't think age has that much to do with it.
Maturity is not a static arrived platform, where life is viewed from a calm, untouched oasis of wisdom, but a living elemental frontier between what has happened, what is happening now and the consequences of that past and present; first imagined and then lived into the waiting future. Maturity calls us to risk ourselves as much as immaturity, but for a bigger picture, a larger horizon; for a powerfully generous outward incarnation of our inward qualities and not for gains that make us smaller, even in the winning.
The whole of the life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to him [or her] self; indeed, we should be fully born when we die — although it is the tragic fate of most individuals to die before they are born.