Ageless means to be free of the characteristics associated with age. Thinking means to bring thought to mind by exercising the power of reason. Ageless thinking means to practice the exercise of thinking about maintaining a youthful state, both physically and mentally
Age is frequently overused and misused. Irrational prejudice oftentimes occurs in judging a person’s capabilities on the basis of the characteristics of a conditioned age group and what we presume as being typical of an age set. We assume that an old person is tired and a young person incapable. Generally our assumptions are followed by actions. If we treat young people as being irresponsible, they may tend to act that way. People are prone to act as they are expected to act.
Chronological age can be a helpful growth indicator, in that it does reveal a lot about one’s psychology: Bill Gates became a billionaire in his early 30s. A useful gauge, albeit a person reading about Bill Gates’ accomplishments might make irrational comparisons and exaggerate a worry about his own money-making capabilities at the same age.
Whenever I hear the words, “How old are you,” I stutter for an answer: My chronological age is a matter of years in existence, my biological age is vital, my psychological age is growing, my emotional age is mature, my functional age is young.
Whenever I read the words, “John Doe, 42, won the Olympic …”; Jennifer Johnson, 28, was rescued …” I wonder why revealing one’s age is really so necessary. The media, influential and dominant in society, acts as a perpetual reminder of how old we are. It’s persistent and unnecessary reference to one’s age is a constant reminder and places over emphasis on age rather than on the autonomous person. Entertainment Tonight makes a big deal about the age of celebrities. They even exhibit a daily birthday calendar. Seeing someone our own age who looks bad can cause us to think, “Oh no, I hope I don’t look like that.” Alternatively, seeing a contemporary who looks fantastic, can raise hope or instill an unfair comparison.
When we purchase an item at the store and are asked for identification, the driver’s license and credit card aren’t enough. The sales clerk also wants to know “your date of birth”. Bureaucratic forms persist in claiming entitlement to our age, as do the annoying telephone solicitations, “And, your age, please.”
I find this invasion of my life unnecessary. My age is important to my doctor and myself. If the government wants to know my age for an important reason, I will give it. But I do not find it my duty to give my age to anyone for unnecessary reasons. Let me explain. Chronological age pertains to the number of years we have lived on planet Earth. From the moment we pushed our way through the birth canal into the oxygen world. Each year after this moment of celebration adds to what we are defined in the discriminating eyes of society. I have no qualms with my age, only in the manner in which society determines who I am and what I am capable of by my number of years in existence.
“You’re 70, your time is up!”
“You’re 60 and over the hill, dear boy – middle age, you know.”
“You’re 40, too old for extravagances.”
“You’re 30, find a responsible job and invest.”
“You’re 20, too young to worry about your health.”
“You’re 7, play with your dolls, not airplanes!”
Recently, I was at a birthday party of a friend. Getting late in the evening and getting more light-hearted, he summoned everyone together for opening presents. Delighted at his moment in the spot light, he read aloud birthday cards.
“It’s your birthday! So, have a stiff drink and forget it!” and, “Congratulations! 40 is a great age. — Practice saying that until you can do it without whimpering.”
At the reading of each card, there was a roar of laughter. My friend even jeered at his own getting older, although I don’t think he really was happy about it. He put a throw blanket across his shoulders and mimicked an old man squeezing joy out of remaining moments of youth. I left the party feeling a bit sad. Certainly, we find humor with the encroachment of age. Yet the type of humor — the satire which pokes with snideness while pretending to cheer can be damaging. Getting older loses its mystique after 21. After the driver’s license and the ability to buy a bottle of beer, the yearly reminder of getting older persists, and persists. Until, we lose an ability to think of our lives as a continual process, but defined by the time-element of a year.
To be an ageless thinker, it is essential to be a creative thinker. Flexibility, openness, optimism, and inventiveness are ways in which we can develop our minds to work against the assumptions and beliefs that make us old.
We are taught that at any particular age, we have a set of tasks and responsibilities to live up to them. We accept them in order to function and satisfy with the least amount of resistance in our world. Although we accept these tasks and responsibilities and make decisions about them, emotionally we still have a longing to be youthful. In order to get along with the rest of the world, quasi rule systems form how we are supposed to act at a specific age to help us find our place in society. Many people long to escape from these responsibilities into a second childhood — longing to have the responsibilities of a child, not to care what the world thinks, or to be burdened by the world.
Unfortunately, the world gives honor to those who carry a lot of responsibility. Some people feel an intense drive for responsibility and achievement as a natural process. Others struggle for achievement despite the fact that they long to be free from obligations and come in conflict with their true longings. The effects of age appropriate roles depends on whether it is pleasing or conflict causing. Thus, if the age appropriate role is causing a false sense of self, psychological ailments may arise. It can be difficult to maintain deep fulfillment while living a frenetic lifestyle.
Our most somber assumptions can be provokers of aging. For example, people tend to take on the characteristics of their parents as they grow in years. We may not consciously be aware of our own mutation in becoming more and more like our parents, for it can be a slow and unrecognizable process. Sometimes, when I see my brothers or my sister and a quick glance, I can recognize not only the physical appearance – the style, jesters and mannerisms – but also the language of my parents. One day I saw my sister in almost the identical outfit my mother was wearing. There is thirty years between them, yet excluding their facial characteristics and a difference around their abdomens, they looked like twins. I have found the same similarities between my father who died of cancer any myself when I have felt ill and weak.
Break old patterns. By altering how we have been programmed to see ourselves, we can create new patterns in not only our physical appearance, but also our behavior.