Recently, I had the chance to interview Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. This post reflects some of what I learned from the interview and from reading her great book. Read this to learn how we are all ageist and how that affects how we feel about our lives.
I actually hosted a LIVE Zoom Webinar with Ashton with about 35 people online. Some of you may have been online. Thanks! Let me know what you remember or what resonated most with you.
Ageism is one of the last “isms” still permitted whether we know it or not. My first big aha was when Ashton said: “We are all agist. We have to fight ageism by starting with ourselves.” She said we have to first push back on internal ageism before we can tackle the larger societal issue.
She went on to explain how internalized stereotypes become self-fulfilling prophecies. Such as:
When we look in the mirror, what do we tell ourselves about ourselves? How do we feel about how we look? Try it. Look in the mirror. What do you say to yourself?
Our society likes to focus on youth and anti-aging embracing years of experience and wisdom. We say thing like 70 is the new 50 and 60 the new 40. But what about 70 as the new 70?
- Fighting ageism starts with the self–you and me. Accept who you are and where you are in life. Make the most of it in positive ways.
- As the population ages, dementia rates are actually dropping. The epidemic is the anxiety we have about losing our memory. Focus on the facts to decrease anxiety.
- Older people enjoy better mental health than young or middle-aged. Google the U-curve of happiness.
- People with positive perceptions of aging live on average 7.5 years longer largely because they take better care of themselves.
- Become an “older person in training” by seeking out role models who are living a life that appeals to you. Listen carefully to the older around you. Watch them. Imagine yourself among them.
How many people would go back to being a teenager again?
Would you want to rewind the clock?
What is going on if being young is so great?
So much content is being shared during this pandemic about how to demonstrate or address gratitude, happiness, loneliness, depression, and isolation. And all of these behaviors start with knowing yourself–how you feel about yourself–your self-perception. It always starts with the SELF.
Since I blog about leading and living, I am sharing one of my quotes:
“It is hard to be a good leader if you are not a good person.”
And developing as a person is a never-ending journey. Keep going because life is a series of transitions. We need to keep growing and learning throughout our life for the rest of our life. Even though many of you may be “retired” and no longer have to attend professional conferences, we should still be developing ourselves.
One conference I recommend is hosted by Sage-ing International (SI) every two years. I was looking forward to the conference this fall, but it has already been canceled because of COVID-19. Please look it up and see all of the learning opportunities available to everyone.
Because I have learned so much from SI and met so many people I admire and from whom I learn (another important community for me) I support it financially. At this time, we should all support the organizations that mean the most to us–the ones we would be so sad to lose if they went away. Sage-ing International is one of them for me.
Embracing age doesn’t mean old age. In fact, Ashton uses the word “older.” Depending on the context, we might be older than some in the room and younger than some. When we embrace aging, we acknowledge the process of change which starts the day we are born. Every day we are getting older.
So many “holidays” are what I call Hallmark Holidays — created to sell more cards and gifts. But not birthdays. Your birthday is unique to you and others born on that day. I try to remember birthdays of friends and family members because aging means we are alive and birthdays remind us of that happy fact.
PS: I am hosting a Happy Learning Hour THIS FRIDAY at 1:15-3 Central time. This is a LIVE Zoom Webinar where I am interviewing Renee Rosenberg from NYC. Renee helps people take charge of their job search, career change, and retirement. JOIN by registering here. Space is limited.
This is short notice, but I hope you can hop on ZOOM and join us THIS FRIDAY!