Why do many of us have a fear of ageing? It seems society today is all about anti-ageing, looking younger, holding back the years yet if we think of the alternative it is a privilege that many are denied. Shouldn't we therefore embrace age and celebrate it.
Surely by the time we reach retirement age we should have achieved our purpose in life and become the person we truly are. We should have found ourselves and be at one with our inner most being.
It seems however that as we grow older our fear of ageing can bring on depression and cause us to be frightened by the thought of the loss of youth, the loss of friends and loved ones, the possible loss of mental and physical capacity and the fear of possibly facing illness and loneliness. Retirement particularly in some cases causes us to lose our sense of identity and purpose in life.
It was rather heartwarming when I came across an article "How to Age Joyfully" which was an overview of a book called "Ageless Soul" by Thomas Moore.
Thomas Moore lived as a monk in a Catholic religious order for 12 years before leaving to become a university lecturer, writer and psychotherapist now aged 77 he has a wife and two children and lectures on psychology and the role of spirituality in medicine.
Ageless Soul reveals a fresh, optimistic and rewarding path towards ageing where he shows us that as we grow older we become more distinctive and complex.
Drawing on stories from his practice as a psychotherapist and teacher, Moore acknowledges that most of us have a fear of ageing and argues for a new vision of ageing showing readers how to embrace the richness of the experience and how to feel fulfilled as they grow older.
He agrees that ageing requires courage and advises "that we should say yes to life's invitations. Take it all on. Don't back off. Don't make excuses and Don't run for safety."
He gives us six ways we can embrace growing older rather than have a fear of ageing.
"It's ok to feel sad and have a fear of ageing. After all, growing older means moving closer to the end of life, your body is not as strong as it was, your friends are dying, you're worried about your health and your memory is slipping."
Who was it that said "old age is not for wimps?
He says "that it's only by accepting the sadness of ageing can we begin to appreciate it's joys. If you're feeling sad about ageing, don't repress it. Tell someone how you feel and then fill your life with inspiring experiences that counter the melancholy".
"Reflection fosters being rather than doing. And ageing has more to do with who you are than with what you do. With reflection you draw closer to your emotions and to the meaning of events. You learn to think things through in depth. Through reflection you can learn to accept your past and understand that all your mistakes were part of the puzzle that make you the person you are.
If you keep having experiences without thinking back on them, you develop your external life but not your interior life. With reflection, however you draw closer to your emotions and to the meaning of events. You learn to think things through in depth."
"Illness in old age is not always a catastrophe; it can force us to examine our lives, face our mortality and determine our values."
A large number of his patients said that "although they wished they hadn't had to go through the pain and anxiety of illness - at the same time they felt it was the best thing that could have happened to them. Being sick had forced them to reconsider their lives.
"After a taste of mortality, they sensed the preciousness of each day and saw past the minor issues in their marriages and families to the priceless value of those relationsips.
If we can we should try to view illness as a period in which we can reflect on our lives and emotions."
We shouldn't allow ourselves "to become a curmudgeon believing that our old fashioned values are being disregarded and feel compelled to speak out for what we perceive as right and important.
We should always try to avoid turning into grumpy old people who have developed negative attitudes as what this signals is that we've probably never allowed ourselves to think deeply and we aren't ageing well."
After a lifetime of working retirement can be a problem. Maintaining a sense of purpose can be difficult.
If you have plans to travel, do it. If you volunteer, make it something that "speaks to your soul." Consider taking up a new hobby "that will open up a new life".
"Retire from spending time doing things that don't matter and make your life more meaningful, not less."
Become a source of wisdom - a person commonly referred to as "an elder". Look for opportunities where you could "befriend young people and offer guidance."
"Mentor your grandchildren. Grandparents can give their love and attention more abundantly than parents and without the emotional complexity involved in a parent's love. "
Extracts from an article in the Daily Mail October 28 2017 of Ageless Soul and Uplifting Meditation of the Art of Growing Older by Thomas Moore 2017
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