In our culture, everything happens at the speed of youth. Whether itís cell phones, computers, songs, movies, books or opinions, it seems that only the newest models and latest releases matter. Whatever it is, if itís been around for a while, itís probably lost some value along with its straight-out-of-the-package luster.
And that might be inevitable when it comes to the latest iPad. But it makes no sense when it comes to people. Because while our culture is inclined to associate aging with a downgrade in beauty, vitality and appeal, aging done well has the potential to be something else entirely: an enjoyable and inspiring upgrade of self.
Unlike the boundless energy of youth, the treasures of aging donít just arrive at our doorsteps, though. While it is entirely possible to become more interesting, attractive and dynamic as you age, it rarely happens without some conscious striving.
That said, itís well worth the effort. Done right, living brings wisdom, emotional maturity and insight. With age comes experience, skill, discernment and perspective. We become more empathetic. We develop the compassion to fully know and love others, and the confidence to relax into our best attributes. We gain the ability to know ó and even strut ó our own stuff.
Seen in this light, getting older can be downright sexy. But how does one go about engaging in artful aging? One of the best ways is to start early.
Knowing at 20, 30 or 40 that you can, and fully intend to, become cooler, smarter and potentially hotter as you age gives you an important advantage, because it can help you keep your goals and priorities in line over the long haul. It also helps you focus on the end game, so you donít get stuck thinking that midlife achievements are the highest markers of a life well lived.
But at whatever age you suddenly realize that you are, in fact, getting older, it is still possible to age gracefully from there on out. All it takes is smart choices, well-directed energy and a desire for self-renewal. As best-selling author and journalist Gail Sheehy puts it, we need to ďremain open to new vistas of learning and imagination and anticipate experiences yet to be conquered and savored.Ē