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How to get older

Written by Richard Docwra

How can we become good at getting older?

We're all growing older - it's one of the certainties of life. At Life Squared we think there are some ways to deal with this ageing process that can help us to continue flourishing throughout our life - no matter how old we are.

This leaflet provides 10 tips to help you age well throughout life.

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How to get older

1. Think of the present - looking back to the past too much can be a comfort blanket or a tie that stops us making the most of the present.  Equally, looking to the future (whether it's with fear or expectation) too much can do the same.  Make the most of the present.

2. Know yourself – try to develop an honest sense of what you are really about, including what makes you happy and fulfilled, what makes you unhappy or uncomfortable, what your priorities are in life and how you really want to live.  Don’t judge yourself on your choices – just be honest.

3. Be happy with yourself - an important ingredient in your flourishing throughout life  is learning to be happy with yourself (or at least accepting who you are).  This includes accepting our natural tendencies, qualities and physical features and realising that we are neither perfect nor imperfect – we are just ourselves.  It also means seeing the best in ourselves and making the best of ourselves.

4. Keep fit - it's important to keep both mentally and physically active throughout life.  Taking regular physical exercise is good for you and makes you feel good.  Keeping mentally active also has many benefits, so keep learning and taking an interest in the world around you - no matter how old you are.

5. Keep connected - the quality of our relationships with other people is one of the most important factors contributing to our well-being – if not the most important.  Avoid loneliness and isolation, and seek to connect with others, as even the simplest moments of connection – like saying hello to our neighbours - can make our lives better.

6. Keep a sense of purpose - having a set of interests, projects and activities can provide us with a real sense of purpose in life, which can in turn keep us feeling fresh and enthused by life.  These could take any form, including helping other people, making things, fixing things, running a business or taking classes.

7. Know your limits... - as we get older, we may find we face physical limits that weren't there before - for example, back pain preventing us from playing certain sports.  Work out which of these are genuine limits (and which of them can be solved), and accept any limits that emerge in your life with good grace.

8. ...and use them - use your understanding of any limits you have in a creative way to think how you can add value to your life - perhaps by trying new sports or hobbies rather than the ones you were struggling at because of your physical limits.

9. Don't lose your inner child - keep your sense of wonder, fun and enthusiasm for the world.  Try to see life through fresh eyes every day, and it will keep you energised and give you fulfilment.

10. Be thankful – regularly remind yourself about the remarkable fact that you exist, and are able to reflect on your experience of life.  This doesn’t have to be thanking anyone (like a god) in particular – it is just the process of acknowledging your luck in existing.   This is an easy way to maintain a sense of wonder about life, get connected with your inner world and feel more positive about daily life.

Life Squared 2012

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