Anti-aging! The term sells! However, there’s no such thing as physical anti-aging except death; who’d want that? But, there is an anti-aging power within us: it’s our spirit, residing in our soul; neither ages!
Our spirit grows in wisdom and grace throughout our lifetime. This truth allows us to accept each age as a sunrise of opportunities, instead of rejecting it as if it were sour grapes. Our spirit governs our attitude toward getting older; it guides us to generate positive, healthy choices which develop, enrich, and expand our mind, body and itself–our spirit–which also must be fed as does our body and mind. The choices we make about how to handle this truth is personal. Whichever attitude we choose: sour grapes or morning sunrise, it will happen.
God said to Jeremiah (21:8):
“See, I am giving you a choice between life and death.”
And while urging him to choose life, the Lord reminds Jeremiah (29:11):
“I know well the plans I have in mind for you…plans for your welfare, not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.”
God tells us the same. As we believe this, we form our attitude; which, in turn, exerts a powerful influence over us and affects all other choices as we strive for ongoing optimal wellness of mind, body, and spirit.
Jokes and greeting cards poke fun at people over thirty; these have their place and help us not to get overly serious about our maturing years. However, many adults, from 31-130, dwell over much on wrinkles, tummy-tucks, stretch marks, hair loss or graying and on organ-recitals–how parts of their bodies don’t work as well as they once did. We often dwell on perceived inferior mental functioning as we mistakenly compare ourselves to how we were, or to younger persons, instead of retraining our thoughts toward untapped possibilities. The tendency is to center attention on the can’t-dos, instead of the can-dos of opportunities. We stagnate as we pine for “the way we were,” instead of initiating creative adaptations which build on the past, but move us forward.
At each age, we give up some things. Each stage requires loss of the previous one in order to move on to further maturing. At one time, we had an excitement about these losses because we didn’t dwell on them. Instead, we anticipated fresh possibilities for a new time. Birthdays held a thrill. How can we recapture this delight?
Firstly, we need to reject culture’s image of maturing as unattractive and somehow ugly! We’ve bought into society’s commercialism of purchasing products to stay young by covering up so-called embarrassing signs of aging. We’ve been brainwashed into this negativism by money-makers who want to keep us needy and locked in denial of the maturing process. This way, their profits escalate. From their putdowns, we create our own negative self-image, accept this fallacy and encourage our dependent minors to do the same, instead of realizing that we are the dwelling place of Christ’s Spirit alive in us.
Aging begins at conception and lasts a lifetime. Physical change is integral to growth. As was noted previously, the terms old and elderly in our culture connote decline. However, the term maturing adult, indicating that life is a process, is positive. The use of older adult, as opposed to younger adult, is not an implied putdown of either. One wonders: how, at some magic age, do people become elderly? What qualifies one for this? Labels only stereotype and suffocate individuals and uniqueness.
Secondly, though physical change happens at every age, the good news is that–barring accident or disease–our brain can continue to gain strength, develop, and remain plastic and pliable until we die if we work at keeping it as healthy as possible at each age. The other good news is that, though we may have a sickness or disability, they don’t have to have us.
Thirdly, St. Paul says: “Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:20). We must start early in life to help this become a reality. Our spiritual view of maturing and our choices start as soon as we can be taught to see goodness and love all around us, though they’re not perfect. Our learned focus on optimal wellness of mind, body, and spirit begins when we’re first teachable and depends on lifelong maintenance, supported by prayer, Christ’s help, and God’s grace. The attitude, choices, and goals we create are our witness to being a Temple of the Spirit.
In reflecting, we might ask what is our attitude as we continue in the maturing process? Toward the next decade? How can we glorify God in our bodies now through healthy choices for optimal wellness?