Photo courtesy of Rich Tortorigi
Exaggerated worries over how we look can distract us from focusing on who we could be. I often hear women comment that men seem to age better than they do. Panicking about getting older, they rush out and make a rash decision about going under the scalpel. Perhaps what we really need is to stop running from age, and start developing a new perspective on our eternally youthful inner beauty. Italy’s top beauty expert Diego Dalla Palma casts doubt on the misconception that men age better than women. In his book, La Bellezza Interiore, Dalla Palma admits that aging causes many of his clients the heavy burden of bitterness and suffering; especially if they try to deny the inevitable. Aging also, however, can bring with it wisdom, an unparalleled wealth of experience, and the ability to take joy in the moment—something we can’t always accomplish in our youth. The author encourages his readers to consider the balance one acquires with age, and the gifts aging brings despite what it seems to take away.
As one who wrote my doctoral dissertation on body image, I would encourage my readers to value aging more. Not everyone makes it to a ripe old age, so to have your good health at 57, 67 , 77 and beyond—is a gift that far outweighs the emergence of a few crow’s feet. Dalla Palma claims that two indispensible characteristics that help us to make the most of our golden years are charisma, and a great personality. When we develop those two aspects of ourselves, it matters little whether we are male, female, chronologically old, young, wrinkled or taut- skinned. When we drink the sweet nectar of life’s precious moments, the people around us are uplifted by our spirit, and warmed by our example. We inspire others when we are living our best life at any age.
Sometimes, bitterness in old age reflects a fear of death. If that is the case with you, it might help to seek a professional to talk to, a religious figurehead at your place of worship, or even some reading materials (philosophical, religious, etc) that can provide you with insights, some enlightenment, and even some peace of mind. Marco Aurelio, the Roman philosopher said “he who fears death either fears the loss of sensation or a different kind of sensation”. In Meditations, he reasons that if we lose the ability to feel sensations after death, then we won’t feel any harm anyway. If our sensations change, that means we are experience a different kind of life, different than the one we have now, but we would nevertheless be very much alive. Thus it makes little sense to fear the end of this life. It makes more sense to keep on living life to the fullest for as long as we can.
Here are five ways you can reap the joy of each day:
1. Cook yourself at least one delicious fresh meal every day, even if you live alone. Meals don’t have to be fancy to be exquisite, nor do they have to have 4-6 courses. Nutrient rich foods prepared in Mediterranean-style will help you to feel alive and strong.
2. Invite friends over once a week for game night. It could be bocce, briscola, or scopa, but it is important to have friends come over to share some laughs on a regular basis. You will feel at least ten years younger if you maintain a rich social life.
3. Follow your interests. Whether it is painting, traveling, reading, or stamp collecting. Now is the time to really pursue the activities you feel passionate about. You will have more knowledge and also great stories to share, which will draw people into your life.
4. Do something kind for someone else every day. Altruism keeps your heart young and flexible; whether it is a gratuitous smile, a gracious offer to open the door for someone, or treating the person behind you in line to a caffe’ latte.
5. Finally, make sure you get enough sleep each night. We all vary as to the amount we need, but keep in mind that the body needs to be rested and restored on a regular basis. Only then can you function optimally, avoid cravings, and erase the word “crankiness” from your vocabulary.
Now walk away from that mirror and towards the adventures in life that reconnect you to what counts!
©Raeleen Mautner, PhD., LLC 2014, author Lemons into Limoncello