To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living? (Henri Amiel, 1874)
So how can we learn how to do this aging business successfully?
One of the secrets to successful aging, uncovered in a major study of adults across their lives, is that the people who do it well are continually reinventing their lives. These are the ones who, when faced with the challenges of sorrow, loss, and defeat are able to surprise even themselves, as well as others, with their ability to identify those factors which make their lives worthwhile. This does not mean that they deny the reality of hardships, but they never lose sight of those things which give their lives meaning and value.
The study established that positive aging means to be able to love, to work, to be open to learning something we did not know yesterday, and to hold an attitude which accepts life's difficulties but does not dwell on them.
The attitude we hold can be critical to the way we experience aging and old age. Old age can be both miserable and joyful, but ask yourself, 'Is this any different from the rest of life?? If you were successful in overcoming defeats in the past you still have the capacity to do it again. If you feel you have failed in this area in the past, now might be the time to seek out help from family, friends, local community services or your religious community.
Our attitude may well be governed by what meaning we give to aging. Does it imply nothing more than decay? Or is it change as the seasons change? Do you perceive aging as a continuous process of human development? In reality aging is all of these, as Woody Allen remarked, none of us gets out of this world alive, and aging does change us physically but there is still a continuity of the person you are within that changing process. The idea of continuing development as a person throughout your entire life suggests that we can encounter advantages in being older which may be identified in several areas such as wisdom, knowledge, and the ability to love and care for others, it also suggests that we can continue to grow and change ourselves at any age, to grasp every opportunity life might present you and to value yourself for what you have to offer the younger generations.