It’s a fact: we all get older, we all age. No one is exempt from life’s maturation process. However, it’s our attitude and perspective of the journey that truly matters. Growing older is a privilege, not a life sentence. And yet, we haven’t learned how to stretch ourselves beyond the skin-deep notion that we are only valuable if we are young.
I believe aging is designed to help us examine our extended layers, the ones all the way down at our ocean floor where the sunken treasures are found. We must go through the uncomfortable process of holding our breath while diving into the dark and scary questions: “Who am I REALLY (even without my youth)?” “Am I willing to accept the changes that will come with aging?” “Do I care more about how I look or about how I feel?” “What am I willing to do differently to better care for myself?”
The fear that surrounds those answers and the idea of what we can’t control with getting older—gray hair, wrinkles, sun spots, loose skin, and joint pains—overshadows what we can control. That’s how we respond and adapt to these changes. Aging well isn’t just about preserving our appearance, it’s about practicing acceptance, gratitude, self-love, and selflessness. These are the fundamental ingredients of aging gracefully.
Where does the change begin when it comes to our aging attitude? There are three steps that can move us in the right direction of embracing age.
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First, it begins with the power of our words. Every day our internal dialogue is creating our reality by choosing the thoughts we think. Our subconscious is always eavesdropping on our conversations with ourselves and with others. It’s important to be aware of the dangerous messaging of “getting old” we are ingesting from advertisers. The aging fear is contagious.
The internal dialogue begins by training the brain. We have to be willing to choose positive thoughts that shift our perspective and challenge any belief systems that no longer serve us. We have the freedom to choose words that create empowering thoughts.
I believe so much in the power of words that I created a company called WORDAFUL, a video and live event series that showcases the importance of how we communicate with others and ourselves. It’s a new form of storytelling that I hope will encourage and connect us to the understanding that words matter. We can create new realities by changing our internal and external dialogue, ones that support more meaningful relationships and lives. It is our thoughts and words from yesterday that make up our lives today.
We’ve all heard of the expression, “practice makes perfect.” I believe practicing acceptance and self-love makes a perfect peace of mind. Affirmations are a great tool to help anyone get started. Some of the most powerful words we can say to ourselves include “I AM.” Whatever statement follows contributes to our self-happiness or self-loathing.
GRATITUDE AS AN ATTITUDE
The second step is practicing gratitude. Giving thanks as an everyday ritual can help us rewire the circuitry in our brain to help us think more positively. One exercise is writing in a daily journal and listing three things you are grateful for in your life. Practicing gratitude can have extremely powerful effects on the mind, body, and soul. It offers us: improved physical, emotional, and social well-being; greater optimism and happiness; improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crisis; increased self-esteem; a strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure; an expanded capacity for forgiveness; improved self-care and a greater likelihood to exercise; and heightened spirituality—the ability to see more clearly.
The more we appreciate what we have now (a working mind and body), the more inclined we are to take care of them.
GIVE WITH PASSION
Lastly, giving back to others and to the planet is a great way to practice selflessness. When we are in service to others, we focus less on our problems. We find purpose when we give with passion. Tapping into our authentic selves and sharing that uniqueness with the world is a gift, and when we give it away, that energy gets reciprocated. We then begin to live a life that is more fulfilling.
We can shift our perspective on aging when we leave our bubble to appreciate the cycle of life. Everything in existence is interconnected and webbed together, and we all take our turn to grow and evolve. We share this planet with every living creation. The source that keeps one heart beating keeps all hearts beating, and what affects one of us affects all of us. Realizing this as one of the beautiful mysteries of life helps us to make sense of our own existence.
We can shift our attention to the types of words and thoughts we want to nurture, tap into a stream of gratitude that enlivens and nourishes so many parts of our daily lives, and stay connected to what gives us meaning in life by amplifying the gift we have to offer others. And once we do all these things, aging becomes a deeper, more natural part of life experience. We become more awake to life and more seated in an empowered place.
Liz Hernandez is a Mexican American Emmy-nominated TV personality and journalist, and former radio host and entertainment reporter for Access Hollywood, E! News, and MTV. She created WORDAFUL—a video and live event storytelling series that focuses on the incredible power of words and how they can help us to communicate more meaningfully.