Scandalised by this headline? Am I wicked even to think it?
Before you scramble for your Twitter login (mine is @lik_wan by the way) let me explain. We cannot change our chronological age. Sometimes we get serious illnesses that might not have if we were younger. Some leave us disabled in some way. Age plays a part in when we die. But almost everything else about getting old is up to us – you and me.
It has been common knowledge for centuries that certain behaviours shorten our lives. These behaviours also cause us to age more quickly. Being fat, drinking too much alcohol, not taking enough exercise, smoking – it is a short list and we know it well. Apart from the diseases these behaviours cause directly, they also damage many organs and our self-respect. The link between mental and physical health has been known for centuries.
Adopting any of these behaviours is a choice. Nobody makes us do it. We must also therefore accept that aging that occurs from them is a deliberate choice.
Being old is a choice.
However, even if you have never drunk, smoked or been fat and even if you exercise regularly, you may still make the choice to be old. Do you ever say:
- “I’m getting too old for that now”
- “I’m longing for retirement”
- “I wish I was your age again”
- “I am not as young as I used to be”
- “At 40/50/60 I’ve got past that sort of thing”
- “You wouldn’t remember, you’re too young”
Phrases like this are making you older! Every time you say one or even think it, you are aging your self -image. You may choose to say it to make a point, provide an excuse, or some other short-term reason. But little by little, unobtrusively, your brain is quiently absorbing these thoughts and storing them away.
The people to whom you complain about aging, absorb it too. “Poor old Mike, he’s a bit past it now I’m afraid.” “Do you think you’re up to it, Angela, dear?” “You won’t want to come with us Mum, I’m sure”.
Little by little being old becomes true. Being old has become your choice.
But there is no need for this to happen. You can choose other paths, paths where your chronological age is irrelevant. In future posts, I will be writing more about your choices and how you can create a persona where your date of birth does not matter.
The fact is – it’s your choice.