How to Age Exuberantly
Advice for people of any age, from a very joyful 86-year-old
Welcome back to Age Wise, exploring the science of improving physical health and mental wellness at every stage of life. This week, I’m intrigued by Margareta Magnusson's new book, The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly: Life Wisdom from Someone Who Will (Probably) Die Before You. At 86 years old and after what she calls a full and happy life with her husband and kids, she lives alone. Among her suggestions for aging gracefully: “Wear stripes, don’t resist new technology, let go of what doesn’t matter.”
New York Times reporter Jancee Dunn interviewed Magnusson, and you can’t beat this insight:
“You cannot stop the passing of time and how it affects your body, but you can work to keep a clear and positive mind,” Magnusson told Dunn. “You can be young upstairs in your head even if your joints creak.”
Here are some of Magnusson’s other suggestions, amplified by Dunn and horribly paraphrased and personalized by me:
Life sucks, but it’s better than the alternative. If you have hardship, be glad you’re around to experience it and, hopefully, able to overcome. An example: It’s a pain in the ass to pay bills, but if you can afford to pay them, be grateful.
Youth can make you younger. Spend time with young people. This is a no-brainer. I’ve never understood why perfectly healthy people in their 50s or 60s would want to live in an age-restricted community. If that’s your thing, fine, but I love conversing with our Gen-Z son’s friends and hearing about our Millennial kids’ worldly adventures. I enjoy seeing teens be awkward. I love the sound of kids at a playground. Magnusson’s advice for hanging out with younger generations: “Just ask them questions. Listen to them. Give them food. Don’t tell them about your bad knee again.”
Just say yes. Growing older often leads to self-cloistering. Doing less. Saying no a lot. Yesterday, our youngest son said “let’s go climbing,” as in indoor rock-wall climbing, which he introduced us to a few months back. My wife and I, even though maybe it wasn’t tops on our list of best ways to spend the afternoon and we knew it’d be expensive since we don’t have a membership or own any climbing equipment, said yes.
Our afternoon at the rock wall cost $85. We can’t justify doing that regularly, but I’m grateful we could afford it. On my first climb, I felt weak and tentative. Same for my wife. But soon we were scampering up the wall (I might be exaggerating slightly!) and high-fiving (yes, we’re old!) and having a blast. Among the best parts was watching all the younger adults, teens and little kids attacking that wall. The whole affair just made me feel a little bit younger.
Totally unrelated, here are my latest articles on Medium:
Your Sleep Quality Probably Sucks. How to Know and What to Do.
Take care of yourself, now and again.
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