Aging Is Positive – Ask Betty White

This blog is dedicated to three topics, Health, Wellness and Aging.  Some might regard the first two as clearly positive topics but might be in two minds about the third.

Aging can of course merely represent the passing of time.  It is essentially neutral, as you might imagine when viewing architecture built to last for thousands of years, like Stonehenge or the Pyramids. 

In some cases aging can be a positive factor.  Fine wines and cheeses are often better enjoyed after some years of mellowing and improvement.

When it comes to human beings, aging implies change in a whole set of factors.  Some could be regarded as drawbacks, such as the body becoming more frail.  Others can be seen as advantages, when it comes to increased knowledge and experience.  What is your view of the total aging package: positive or negative?

Positive Is An Attitude Of Mind

It is a very personal decision as to whether you regard aging as positive or negative.  However bear in mind that there is now a branch of psychology called Applied Positive Psychology.  This is showing through documented research what is often said which is that being positive creates better outcomes.

If you want to see a supreme example of this line of thinking, just consider that well known actress, Betty White. The Huffington Post went so far as to call it The Betty White Effect.

Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Denzel Washington and… Betty White? Aside from all being actors, what else could these four have in common? According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, they have been voted as some of our most trusted celebrities, with Betty White — at 89 and decades older than the others — winning the top spot in 2011

As they suggest not only is Betty White cool, but actually being old is cool. Old age here is different, and according to Betty, it’s vital, full of humor and not going anywhere.

This is indicative of a growing shift in how both the media and greater society are perceiving the aging process. We see in living color a near 90-year-old who is physically fit, mentally sharp, busy pursuing her interests and funny to boot. And we’re laughing with her and not at her! She has become a model we’d all like to aspire to as we age.

Not only are demographic trends pointing in the direction of living longer, but we are beginning to live better as well, more fit and sharp than our parents and grandparents and with the promise of age-related nemeses like cancer, heart disease and dementia seeming less insurmountable by the day. If in 30 or 40 years these great killers are essentially controllable (or curable!), most individuals will have decades of healthy, active living once they reach seniorhood, pursuing new interests, careers and relationships much like we see Betty doing today.

You might find this video of Betty White’s Ten Tips For Living A Long And Happy Life given on the David Letterman show both amusing and instructive. In particular her advice to Try Not To Die.

If you are interested in other resources on what is sometimes called positivity, you might find the Healthy Aging website of interest.

Aging Is Positive

Healthy Aging® is a national ongoing health effort designed to broaden awareness of the positive aspects of aging and to provide information and inspiration for adults, age 50+, to improve their physical, mental, social, and financial fitness.

This all relates to the Power of Positive Thinking as described by Remez Sasson

Positive thinking is a mental attitude that admits into the mind thoughts, words and images that are conductive to growth, expansion and success. It is a mental attitude that expects good and favorable results. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action. Whatever the mind expects, it finds.

In thinking on these matters, that phrase from a T.S. Eliot poem The Hollow Men came to mind:

This is the way the world ends – not with a bang but a whimper

The subtitle for that poem is A Penny for the Old Guy, which is particularly appropriate today.

I am sure that Betty White will make sure when the time comes to make her exit, it will be with a bang and certainly not with a whimper.

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