You're not growing OLDER — you're getting BETTER.
With over a dozen anti-aging creams and serums on my bathroom shelf, I’ve been marching in unison with a societal obsession to halt the aging process. It seems that right after I turned forty, the normal wear and tear of my body became offensive to my existence and detrimental to my self-esteem.
That is until today, when I realized that I was WRONG about the entire aging conundrum.
You see, last night I had one of those dreams that was more like a reality TV show than a movie. My older self showed up — in her late seventies. Traces of gray hair beneath her dark chocolate highlights. Wrinkled cheeks, upper lip, and neck. Age spots, soggy abs, and thigh cellulite — my own mom’s worst nightmare.
However, with a total assault to logic, the old me appeared content. She was smiling broadly, her topaz eyes bright, clear and filled with the teasing light of passionate aliveness. Despite her non-Botox-stuffed face, she was HAPPY.
She made a huge impact on me, and when I opened my eyes in the morning, I had to question my relationship with this older version of me — perhaps the most important relationship of all.
As a mental health professional, I know that our entire reality is created from mental conclusions formed in early childhood. When we’re born, our minds are a clean slate and we look at the world with innocent wonder.
As we grow older, observing our environment, we form mental conclusions about life, people — and especially about ourselves. Over the years, these mental beliefs form thick layers of human conditioning — or lenses of perception — through which life appears to us.
This is what I call perceptional non-reality. Knowing this, I have to re-focus my lenses in regards to aging.
I’ve been asking myself, what is my core belief about aging?
What does “getting old” mean to me? So I write down, getting older means: ugly, decline, disconnected, feeble, depression, loneliness, death.
Inspired by my dream, I cross out these words and write another, a more useful description of what getting older means to me:
Maturity, wisdom, self-knowledge, self-respect, awareness, richness of life experience.
The image from my dream floats into my mind, and the realization follows: The beauty of my old self’s self-esteem is radiating brightly from within, consuming wrinkles and age spots. Her physical appearance has NOTHING to do with the emotion of happiness — the most desired state, craved by all.
However, I can’t be happy and in “fighting aging” mode at the same time. I have to make the choice to be happy and old. Year after year. Otherwise, I’ll be paddling against nature, totally wasting my time on unnecessary suffering and stress — and today, EVERYONE knows that stress is not good for the skin.
If I choose to age gracefully, my entire lifestyle evolves into self-love and self-care.
I choose foods that are good for my body—fresh, natural cuisine that fulfills and satisfies me. I stay active and well hydrated. I exercise my body in ways that are fun and enjoyable.
I keep my mind positive and calm. I focus on the bright side of life while accepting its dual nature. I forgive easily and smile more. I recognize that no one is perfect and people do the best they can, including myself. I criticize less and praise and appreciate more.
I choose to see my future as vivid and bright, like that bouquet of candles on my birthday cake. All these are the signs of healthy maturity — an optimistic and exciting aging quest worth celebrating.
Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and a Holistic Consultant. Contact her here or visit her website for an office or phone consultation to attain mental-emotional alignment and close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.