Pills? Or “Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging”?

My friend Ken Girard posted the following blog as Boomers – What’s Around the Corner.

Thinkstock/comstock images - models for illustrative purposes

Approximately one-fourth of the [United States] population are baby-boomers. That’s right—one-fourth.  There are 76,000,000 of us (yes, I’m one…too). That’s an enormous market.

Where are they headed?  Perhaps the larger curiosity is, where is their money headed?

According to The Washington Post (“AGING AMERICA: Baby boomers expected to spend tens of billions in pursuit of youthfulness”), there are immense financial gains to be made by an industry that is focused on helping boomers live up to the image of a forever-youthfulness that we were raised on.  We currently spend $80 billion annually but by 2015 that number will soar to $114 billion.

What’s the money going for?  Various hormone and vitamin therapies, cosmetic surgeries, and a variety of skin care creams. None of these procedures are at Walmart price tags.  And very few have any lasting or discernible positive effects.

As I’ve thought about the interest of my fellow-boomers in these so-called youth-enhancing products and procedures, I’ve found myself leaving the pack.  I’m a lot more rebellious when it comes to what happens to me due to the passing of years.

I’m not convinced that we are inevitably in a state of deterioration in which ill-health brings an ever-tightening noose on all of our activities.

Also, is the fear of this projected phenomenon motivating us to such a degree that we focus on the superficial instead of something much deeper about ourselves and about life itself?

I’ve often thought about the Israelite biblical figure Caleb who at 85 years of age tells Joshua that he is as fit to go out and return from battle as when he was 40.  Quite a statement.  But is it just an allegorical exaggeration?

Not in my experience.  About twelve years ago, Caleb’s assertion provided a hint of a different vantage point about life and aging.  It all hinged on whether I thought of myself and others as fundamentally spiritual.

As my thought shifted accordingly I saw a direct correlation in doing so. My life increased in vigor, usefulness, and health.  Even though I led a fairly sedentary lifestyle as a composer and pianist, I took up cycling.  Over 50,000 miles later I’m still going strong.

Where does all of this leave us?

Mario Garrett, Ph.D, a professor of gerontology at San Diego State University, stated in his July 26th Sign On San Diego article “Study links aging with increase in positive thoughts”:

Numerous studies continue to show that living longer relates to this ability to see things in a positive light. Research found that older individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging — measured up to 23 years earlier — lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions. This advantage remained after accounting for differences in age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness, and functional health.

Positive perceptions.  A change of thought.  A more spiritual viewpoint.

That’s the kind of low-cost and effective revolution that boomers—or anyone else—might find looks really attractive in the mirror.

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