I spend a lot of time listening to people talk about their age. When you work in a health related field, conversing about age is as common as conversing about the weather.
What is interesting is that age is often confused with vitality.
What is the most common phrase I hear? I feel so old. Second most common phrase? I look really old.
These statements are made regardless of actual age; the feeling of “being and looking old” is uttered by people who are 25 and who are 85. I have heard it uttered by all demographics and backgrounds. This is a feeling that does not discriminate. But it is misunderstood all the same.
Feeling and looking old have nothing to do with chronological age. I am 34 years old currently. I feel better now than when I was 24. I am in better physical shape, my skin, hair, and nails look better and I am not as depressed. What has happened?
My vitality has increased. It did not happen over night; it happened with conscious work toward that goal.
There is a gross assumption out in the world at large: increasing in chronological age is synonymous with the deterioration of vitality. Many people believe that the two cannot be separated. We are sold that idea in popular culture and by our families; our own speech patterns continue to reinforce it; we witness what we believe to be examples of it.
But this does not have to be the case. Everyday we make choices that either increase our vitality or diminish it. It is a conscious choice if we maintain our life force or deplete it. The responsibility is ours. Do we want to feel and look old or do we want something different?
Vitality, conversely, should not be confused with the idea of clinging to youth. This is another idea we are sold in our culture. We believe that we must be the same as a 28 year old when we are 58: the same energy level, the same body appearance, etc. This is also not true.
Vitality has an interesting definition:
- power of enduring
- lively and animated character
- physical or mental vigor
The physical and mental vigor of a 58 year old should not look the same as a 28 year old; there is a lot of life experience that is lived between these two ages. I don’t want to currently live the same life that I lived when I was 24. I am lively and animated but in a wiser, more full way than when I was younger. I thought I knew everything then; now I see that I knew very little.
Each age has its own qualities that imbue it with vitality. And vitality means something different to each person. My idea of vitality may not suit you. My idea of vitality may sound ludicrous to you. But both your idea and mine are valid. And vitality has nothing to do with age. I have seen young people so soaked in apathy that there was no vitality left to be found. And I have seen elders that danced and laughed in a way that showered vitality on all those they came in contact with.
So which do you choose: a life of feeling older day by day or a life filled to the brim with vitality? Which will you allow to win the battle?