Positive ageing - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

Positive ageing

Written by on November 24, 2014 in Happiness, Wellness with 0 Comments

images-2Those who’ve read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley will recall the disdain its eternally young and vital society shows towards the elderly, any individual who on reaching age 60 is deemed economically useless and subsequently euthanized. Yet Huxley was quite prescient in how he portrayed our attitudes towards old people because even though prejudice against senior citizens isn’t as extreme today as what’s depicted in his book, it’s certainly still prevalent according to founder of the Happiness Institute and upcoming speaker at Mind & Its Potential 2015, Dr Timothy Sharp, who’s presenting here at Happiness & Its Causes 2014.

In fact, the Australian Human Rights Commission released a report in 2013 on the problem of age discrimination, looking specifically at the media’s presentation of older Australians. Unfortunately the worthless, angry, sad and useless old fogey stereotype persists, says Sharp, even though “it’s not helpful and it’s not the truth.” On the contrary, many elderly folk worldwide “are functional, are healthy, are happy.”

Not only that, the older you are the happier you’re likely to be. Sharp says “there’s a significant body of research, several well controlled and very well conducted studies that show happiness can actually increase with age.” Those of us of a certain vintage can probably guess why. Despite our wrinkles and ‘ta da’ arms, many of us are actually more comfortable in our skin now than when we were younger, and don’t care nearly as much about what other people think.

It’s also heartening to be reminded that many men and women peak creatively, professionally, even physically long past their so-called prime. You can read about some of them in Sharp’s latest book, Live Happier, Live Longer, and hear about yet more of them in this YouTube video.

Sharp says such individuals illustrate “the phenomenon made famous years ago called the ‘Psychology of Possibility’”, a term coined by Dr Ellen Langer known for her pioneering mind body research including the now famous Counter Clockwise study in 1979 in which eight elderly men lived in a residential retreat that recreated the social-physical environment of 1959.

After one week sequestered in this virtual 20-year journey back in time, all eight participants showed marked improvements in their hearing, memory, dexterity, appetite, and general wellbeing. They even looked younger to outside observers who saw photos of them before and after the experiment. Sharp enthuses, “If we can turn back the mind, can we turn back the body? Yes!”

We all want to live forever but not if we’re in pain or can’t remember our spouse’s name or what a teapot is for. Hence considerable research is focused on finding out what promotes not just longevity but a mentally and physically healthy life. Sharp says scientists have learned a lot from the so-called Blue Zones, “hot spots around the world where there’s a significantly higher proportion of centenarians, and significantly lower rates of some of the illnesses and diseases that we sometimes associate with old age.

“So what scientists, sociologists, anthropologists have done is to study these people. What are they actually doing? How do these people live so well? The good news is we’ve learned a lot from them, and they’re simple things that we can all do and the sooner we start them the better. It’s never too late. Every day we do these things we advance our tomorrow.”

 

Dr Timothy Sharp is presenting a session at Mind & Its Potential 2015For more information and to register, please click here.

Visit The Wellness Show Expo 1-3 April 2016, Hordern Pavilion & Royal Hall of Industries, Sydney – a free showcase of the innovation and technology that are transforming the way we stay fit and healthy. For more information and to register for your free visitor pass click here.

This event will be co-located with The Digital Health Show which will also feature an expo as well as a major conference on the deployment of digital health technologies for administrators, clinicians and technology professionals in healthcare. For more information and to register for your free visitor pass to the expo click here. To register for the conference click here.

 

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