Word-Of-the-Week #613: Embrace

May 4, 2016 by  

Embrace – willing and eager acceptance.

So how much laughter did you experience last week? How about eating dark chocolate? How accepting are you of the aging process? Do you try to fight it or do you embrace it? Laughing while eating chocolate helps!

Once again I found a great article written by Michele Parente in the UT. “Age of the aged: New movement embraces growing old.” She writes, “When she used to see an elderly woman on the street, hunched over, taking tentative little steps, Ashton Applewhite would say to anyone who’d listen, “put me out of my misery if I ever get like that.”

Today, that makes Applewhite, 63, cringe. “I’m ashamed of thinking that now. Why assume she’s miserable? My guess is that she’s happy to be alive and out and about. Maybe she’s going to meet her boyfriend. It’s presumptuous to assume her quality of life sucks because her body has changed,” said Applewhite, a writer and self-described “apprehensive boomer turned pro-aging radical.”

The baby boom generation is a group that’s rewritten the rules in its youth, middle age and now older years. And they can be divided into three categories:

  • Those in denial who try to stay young forever with Botox injections, expensive creams and unproven “snake oil” hormones and remedies. It’s the current equivalent to “Hell no, we won’t go!”a embrace
  • The resigned, who munch on kale and flax seed while doing Sudoku puzzles. They tell themselves, “It’s going to be bad, but if I do these things it won’t be so bad.”
  • And the embracers. “I’m in a rare tribe who looks forward to it with enthusiasm. It’s possible to look forward to something and know there are parts of that experience you’d like to avoid, that won’t be pleasant,” says Dr. Bill Thomas.

He likened how people approach old age to those who’d rather go on, say, a safe cruise versus climbing Machu Picchu. “There are some who would say, ‘you know there could be rock slides,’ and there’s the adventure traveler who says, ‘yeah, but it’s Machu Picchu!’ They do it because they think the adventure is greater than the risk. Look, I’m not a silly person who says old age is great and nothing will happen. But people who have a great fear of aging are going against their own future self. They become a traitor by robbing themselves of future possibilities.”

All of the experts interviewed for this story said society’s view of old age – that it’s solely a depressing period of physical and mental decline – isn’t backed up by data, science and research.

“We internalize a lifetime of messages that the younger self is worth more than the older self,” Applewhite said. “The older self is just different.”

This week’s focus is to embrace aging. Which category do you fall under? Denial, resigned or embracer? Do you want adventure or are you afraid of the risk? Do you assume that quality of life sucks as you get older? Or are you eagerly accepting? Stay tuned – more on this next week!

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