What if you could live 7½ years longer without doing anything difficult or unpleasant? Well you can – and here’s how. Posted on June 14, 2019June 14, 2019 by Peter Meadows Imagine it. Living longer – 7½ years longer – by using a procedure that costs you nothing and is neither difficult nor unpleasant. Unbelievable? Not according to solid research into real lives. All it involves is thinking positively about aging. Yes, it really is as simple as that. To begin seeing the experience of ‘aging’ as positive and not negative. Does that all sound too simple and farfetched? Then trust the insight of neurologist Dr Joshua Kornbluth of the Global Brain Health Institute – captured in a brilliant video that’s a must watch – and here’s the link. To put Dr Josh’s message simply, things change for the better when we start thinking ‘good thoughts’ about being old. And he points to research showing that – People with a positive attitude towards aging live, on average, seven and a half years longer than those with a negative attitude. Such a positive attitude makes them feel younger as well – seeing themselves as younger than their actual age. The research comes from the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement led by Prof Becca Levy of Yale University. Among its findings was that ‘older individuals’ with ‘more positive self-perceptions of aging’ lived seven and a half years longer than ‘those with less positive self-perceptions of aging’. However, such a positive attitude is not easy because an ‘enemy’ causes us to feel the opposite. That enemy is ‘ageism’, stresses Dr Josh. This is the prevailing mind-set in our society that discriminates against people just because of their age. He even calls this a ‘social sickness’. As Prof Becca points out, we form our view of age as a stereotype long before becoming old. And so grow up accepting this negative view of aging without question. The way Prof Josh puts it is that, as kids we heard the message that old age was ‘just awful’. So it’s hard to see aging as positive when, from our earliest years, we’ve seen it as the opposite. And the negative reinforcement doesn’t stop there. The time comes when our flush of youth has gone down the pan. From that moment on, powerful commercial forces spend billions telling us to buy their stuff to fend off the dreaded aging process. In addition, the voices in our ears and the actions of society, carry the associations of ‘burden’, ‘scrap heap’, ‘sell-by date’ and more. The prevailing tide is to see those who are older as of less value, less importance, a burden rather than a blessing. Put all that together and there’s no other way to say it – ageism is rife. Which makes it desperately hard for those who age to see it as positive and, thus, benefit from the added years such a mind-set can bring. So how do we make the transition to seeing our advancing years as positive, with the potential to add years to our lifespan? Here’s some wisdom from Dr Josh and others. Be positive about the happiness older age brings Despite what they are told to expect, when people get to their older years they discover it is not bad at all. Indeed, studies show this may be the happiest time since their teenage years. See our blog The happiest of all. A good dose of expecting to be happier, and then experiencing it, is a great fertiliser for a positive attitude. Be positive about the enviable attributes older age brings The outstanding attribute that comes with older years is ‘wisdom. Partly this is down to the experience that accumulates by having clocked up more years than those who are younger. But this is multiplied by our new stage of life being far less cluttered and releasing us to see wood from the trees. As Dr Kate Rankin says on the video, ‘One of the things that’s beautiful about wisdom is you are able to know what’s important and what’s not. You’re able to see what’s valuable, what’s central and what gets you to where you want to be.’ That, in itself, makes us incredibly valuable – to society as a whole and to those who are close to us. Be positive about having a purpose in older age Unlike past generations, who often entered retirement to do no more than hang about in God’s waiting room, today’s retirees have very different prospects. They tend to have the health, energy and resources for another totally fulfilling era – all be it in a very different setting. There are valued and meaningful roles to play – in the context of family, neighbours, church, and society. Roles that take the wisdom, knowledge and availability only they have. Should you doubt it, of needs some inspiration, see the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities. In a nutshell, ignore the negative stereotype of aging and its insipid ageism – and celebrate the positives that only older age can bring. And live longer in the process. Have you experienced ageism and how have you responded? Please do share here or on our Facebook Group. We’d love to hear. Peter Meadows Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He’s still working part time in his 70s, helping churches and resourcing inter-church initiatives. This is alongside enjoying his eight grandchildren, escaping to Spain and spending his kids’ inheritance.