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Aging Youthfully

Aging is inevitable but how one ages is a choice. You can be old in spirit or young at heart. There is something irresistibly attractive about a man or a woman, at any age, who lives life with the curiosity of a child and brimming over with love. Everyone wants to be around that kind of person.

The famous Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics, is credited with promoting the following line to her company’s associates, “Fake it, ‘til you make it.” I loved that line but never felt it meant encouraging one to be a phony or living life as an imposter—rather I believed it meant that sometimes how we act, influences what we become.

Let’s take smiling for example. If a person smiles more often, he or she eventually becomes more happy and emotionally light. And, when we’re walking—if we walk more briskly, that simple action lifts our spirits. Both, by the way, camouflage age and the latter is energizing, too. Finally, how you speak to yourself, and others is either youthful or not. Negative self-talk is a downer and even shows on a person’s face; they just look drawn and grumpy. Being negative is simply not pleasant to be around. People prefer the company of people who are happy, uplift others and are positive. Nobody wants to be around a bummer.

Yes, attitude is critical, but we should pay attention to our physical self, too. Two immediate features come to mind—white teeth and white eyes, for starters. The whiteness will dazzle others and distract folks from focusing on your age. So, get rid of the dull, dark smile that comes with years of smoking, drinking red wine and red sauces or other foods that stain—even tea. Instead, see your dentist, buy a tooth whitening kit or switch your toothpaste.

The next feature is your eyes. Since the sclera, or white part of the eye, also change color over the years because of dust and other environmental pollutants, a quick trip to the drug store for eye whitening drops will do the trick.

There is something else to watch, thinning hair, another tell-tale sign. Thick hair is youthful—especially for women. I had a friend in her 60’s who had a very young face, but her hair was so thin that her scalp showed through, and she appeared years older. One day I suggested she buy a wig; it seemed like a quick fix to me since she had very short hair and it wouldn’t be that obvious. I wasn’t sure she’d paid attention until a week or so later when I stopped by her house to pick her up. When she opened the door, I nearly fell over; she looked 20 years younger. She was wearing the cutest short black wig I’d ever seen. But, if wigs aren’t a good fit (excuse the pun) for you, there are also supplements and treatments that help regrow thinning hair; there’s always an answer.

Another give-away is your posture. We tend to hunch over more as we age so standing more erect is more youthful. Bad posture can become a habit so for women wearing heels will help remind us to straighten up; so does sucking in one’s tummy. But, for some a curving spine may not be structural, it may be a reaction to contracting psoas muscles in the stomach. Although most would assume this muscle’s main function to lift the leg towards the body, the psoas also wraps around and attaches to the spine—so if it tightens, the psoas muscle can also pull the spine downward. Ask a talented masseuse or therapist to help by massaging that muscle until it relaxes or try yoga or exercise to stretch that back to normal. One friend found his acquired posture now affecting his ballroom dancing hobby, which he adored. I referred him to a very talented masseuse who worked on him weekly and the before and after photos were astounding. Again, anything is possible if you believe you’re worth the investment.

One can’t forget that what you wear is also telling. So, if you’re a guy with a favorite old shirt and baggy pants—ditch’em. Pull out some fresh slacks and the shirts you were saving for a special occasion and wear those. There’s no occasion more special than whatever years we have left! And what’s good for the man is even better for the woman. With women, the right clothes will also improve our attitude. Pick outfits in which you feel good or are new. A new outfit always works since women always feel better after they’ve gone shopping.

Trying to look attractive helps, as well. Make an effort to fix your hair, making sure you have decent color and a professional cut. A little makeup enhances self-esteem too and a confident woman is very attractive. If you don’t really wear makeup, try a little lip gloss, a cream that will even out your skin tone, perhaps a bit of blush and you’ll not only look better but your entire manner will perk up.

Finally, watch your figure. Being overweight is not only unhealthy—it’s also unbecoming. Skinny isn’t great either, especially for a maturing woman but packing on the extra pounds tends to age a person. Try to maintain the weight you had during your adult years. So, if you were always large, that’s OK, since wearing a plus size doesn’t limit clothes selection anymore. But if you have always been trim and now aren’t—especially around the middle—either lose it or learn to hide it with what you wear. Exercise or just walking will help activate your circulation, help burn a couple calories, keep the glow alive and maintain joint flexibility; besides, it’s a great energizer overall.

I hope you realize how many factors can contribute to a more youthful you. Still, the most important of all is a person’s inner beauty—whether you’re sixty or one hundred and the main ingredient for inner beauty is being open to and giving love. People open to unconditional love, let it flow through them and they simply radiate! It’s a glow and that aura attracts followers and admirers. If you couple that with a sense of humor— oh, my goodness—that person could become irresistible!

Finally, seeing the humor in life, dropping all our old baggage and becoming more spontaneous is joyful to be around. So is staying curious about and interested in life as it makes us interesting to others which is why the concept of lifelong learning is more than a catch phrase—it’s essential. Continual learning is also good for one’s mental health and warding off dementia.

So, if you don’t have a hobby—get one, read a few books, see old friends or make new ones, take a class on something, travel more—even day trips and learn to appreciate the wonders of life once again. Trust me, if you do many of these things, people will forget how old you are and simply want to hang out.

My biological mother, Sally, lived in an assisted living center during her 90’s and she was the woman all the men wanted to sit with at lunch or dinner. Why? Sally was fun, she was a good listener and she didn’t complain about her aches and pains or the ancient history of her life. The men who loved to be in her company were all many years younger. How does that sound, ladies?

So, unleash your inner child, look in the mirror and see the potential that exists for you with just a little improvement. Take up dancing, listen to more music and make the rest of your life an adventure.

When you embrace life’s journey with that spirit—everybody will want to join you on the trip.

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