Aging is Bad?

In light of the pervasive cultural message that youth is the ideal state of being it is sometimes hard to resist the conclusion that becoming older is somehow bad. I hear all the time from people who are in various stages of getting older, comments to the effect that, “it’s all downhill from here”, “I keep waking up sore, and as soon as one thing heals another part starts hurting”, and worst of all, the defeatist lament, “…my best days are behind me”.

I am certainly aware of the creakiness that begins to set in and I am not about to deny that becoming older is a real phenomenon. I have however chosen to look at the process in a different way – a way that has been helpful to me towards the end of aging gracefully and in a somewhat actualized way.

Often in conversation regarding aging the phrase “well, it is better than the alternative” comes up. This may be the beginning of an improved outlook on the subject, however, for me it is far from the best attitude I could adopt.

I choose instead to embrace the process and claim it as the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I hope it keeps on happening! It is not so much that aging is better than the alternative, meaning DEATH; it is that aging is the essence of being alive. For as long as I am aging I am still living. This is so fundamentally true that one could argue that the attribute of “…is able to age indefinitely…” is part of the essential definition of being alive. DEATH then is the beginning of the next phase in which the attribute “…has stopped aging…” prevails for all those things that were once alive and are now dead.

With this attitude in mind I hope to make the best of the process of aging. I try to exercise regularly and eat in a healthy, balanced way, notwithstanding occasional excursions into chocolate chip cookie excess. When the inevitable aches occur, often themselves related to working out, I try to figure out what the cause may be and modify my routine. Usually a simple change in how I am running or the shoes I am wearing alleviates the problem. Switching from step-aerobics to swimming is a positive example of routine modification. Same thing applies to evaluating my diet. Over the past several years I have been shifting to more raw vegetables, fruits and whole grains in my diet. Simple changes like this have drastically improved my overall health, my sense of well-being, and my overall demeanor. Improved consciousness with respect to my diet and exercise choices is a key part of how I try to embrace the process of aging.

Discovering and choosing to employ this outlook has been very beneficial to me. So much so that I think that it is an essential factor in remaining young-at-heart while aging gracefully in an actualized and fully alive way.

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