The summer of my 18th year, I had older friends but no fake ID. I remember trying to talk my way into a bar, telling the bouncer, “Age is just a number, and numbers don’t mean anything.”
That clearly didn’t work. Thirty-five years later, though, I feel like my younger self was onto something.
Neuroscience proves we can create fresh brain cells (neurogenesis) to tackle new endeavors (neuroplasticity) until the day we die. Our bodies are holding out longer too, thanks to breakthrough treatments that aim to kickg age-related ailments to the curb.
The world of work is also shifting, with “unretirement” becoming a popular and pragmatic choice given economic realities. And so, just as we learned as kids, attitude is everything — especially when it comes to aging.
The Washington Post recently shared several stories about remarkable women who started new careers later in life. Among them are a 57-year-old newly minted doctor, Charlotte, NC’s 68-year-old mayor, and an 82-year-old body builder.
It’s not that these women are superhuman: what they all have in common is a growth mindset, rather than a fixed one. The difference, as Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck explains it, is believing you’ve hit a ceiling vs. knowing you can still reach new heights.
In other words, an ageless attitude.
Copping one doesn’t take much, as 49-year-old writer and cultural critic Heather Havrilesky points out:
[For] everyone I know around my age, there’s this major energy shift in being able to ask the question: Well, what do I want now? Without feeling totally cowed by what you should want, what seems selfish.
Life as a guilt-free grown-up who chooses to pursue long-held dreams with the vigor of a kid? I’ll drink (way beyond the legal age) to that.
Free your mind (and the rest will follow)
As we’ve discussed, your biological age isn’t necessarily the same as your chronological one. Going beyond diet and exercise (which are certainly key to healthy aging), your mindset can be a deciding factor.
For example, cell biologist Bruce Lipton, PhD, has done pioneering work around how our beliefs around getting older can affect how our cells age. His research points to the fact that we have control over our genome, not the other way around.
Given the choice to see your cells regenerate or decline, which would you choose? Kind of a no brainer, amiright?
And of course there’s copious evidence that things like meditation and mindfulness decrease major contributors to aging such as stress, and also increase gray matter for better brain function and longevity.
Now that science has debunked age-old misconceptions about, well, aging, midlife is suddenly prime time to reinvent yourself. Who do you want to become?