by Laurie Israel, Esq.
Along with the aches and pains of getting older, we elders gain a lot of wonderful things as we age. Sitting here at my computer, looking at the lovely spring weather outside, and knowing when I leave the house I’ll be enveloped in the beautiful floral fragrances in the air that exist this time of year, I am thankful for so many things that maturity brings. Here is a list of both the profound and the amusing.
1. No one cares how I look, so I don’t need to primp or go clothing shopping. We elders have gone through our young years, with concerns about our appearances, and attracting others to us. We’re now comfortable in our own skin. So what if the skin is a bit mottled or flabby. Besides that, I have always hated to go clothes shopping. Now I don’t need to buy many clothes (my 1X size doesn’t seem to change and much of my wardrobe seems indestructible, except when I paint in it), The confluence of not needing many clothes and being able to shop by the internet is quite nice. I can keep using and recycle the clothes that I have for a very long time; that feels very good environmentally.
2. I have self-confidence and don’t care what people think. I know that sounds grouchy and curmudgeonly, but it’s a nice feeling to be sure of yourself. By and large, older people have gained that feeling of confidence through a lifetime of experience. Experience helps reduce stress. It’s a feeling of incompetence (or its actuality) that produces much of our stress. When you’re an elder, you’ve had enough experience to achieve competence.
3. You’re not invested in living long, you’re invested in living well. The younger a person is, the more that person fears death. We elders, who are so near death, do not fear it. Why is that? Young people have a hoarding mentality about the days of their lives. They feel each day lived is a day lost, a day that brings them nearer to death. We elders live more in the moment, appreciative of each day, knowing that each day we lived is part of our memories and make up, and in a sense, makes us who we are. We’re relaxed about the prospect of the end of life, because we have lived.
4. We don’t sweat the little stuff. Being older gives us a value system that we’ve developed during our entire lives. We know what is important. So something doesn’t go the way we wanted or expected it to. What an adventure! We have learned that life can be unpredictable, and that sometimes, surprising things happen when we stop holding so hard to our thoughts and expectations.
So the secret is out. Getting old is not harmful or detrimental to your mental health. We elders have things to be very grateful for, that young people do not yet have.
Copyright ©2009 Laurie Israel.
Laurie Israel is founder of Israel, Van Kooy & Days, LLC, a law firm located in Brookline, Massachusetts. She combines a family law practice with estate planning, tax, mediation and collaborative law. Laurie is currently on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation and the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council. Her writings include articles on mediation to stay married (marital mediation), collaborative practice, marriage, divorce, and pre- and post-nuptial agreements. She is a frequent presenter at professional conferences.