BOOK INTERVIEW – How we age after 50 is up to us. Dr. Brandt shares how it can be as fulfilling and joyful as we want it to be.
As we age, society’s view of what we can and can’t, and should and shouldn’t do can be discouraging. Dr. Andrea Brandt, a renowned clinical therapist and author, says we need to stop listening to negative messages telling us to slow down as our capabilities supposedly deteriorate. Instead, we should use “realistic positivity” and embrace the multitude of opportunities that ageing presents. The years beyond middle age can be a time for finding a deeper meaning in life and reengaging with the world around us in a more satisfying way.
In her third book, Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy, Dr. Brandt shares ways to build the physical and emotional resilience necessary for a joyful life in older age. By practising mindfulness, a process that encourages positive self-talk, she explains we can learn to make beneficial changes in our lives and realize we can do something we didn’t think possible. Mindfulness, Dr. Brandt says, “is not just getting rid of negative thoughts, but it’s the act of slowing down and checking on what your internal self is telling you.”
Dr. Brandt recommends that along with our efforts to view aging more positively, we stop saying and thinking, “I’m too old for that,” and adopt seven simple practices:
1. Ignore what the media tells you about aging and other negative messages that suggest what we should or shouldn’t be doing as we age.
2. Determine what you want, not what you think you should want, or what other people want for you. Be realistic, but design a vision you love.
3. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, do it. What are you waiting for? See the present moment as a gift and an opportunity.
4. Free yourself of things that are bringing you down by discontinuing negative relationships or declining to participate in stressful activities or events. Instead, pursue what uplifts and brings joy.
5. Challenge yourself to learn a new language or a new musical instrument to exercise your brain and help keep your memory sharp.
6. Maintain positive relationships by spending more time with loved ones and forming new social connections by joining clubs or taking classes.
7. Take care of yourself by eating right and exercising to help feel both your physical and emotional best.
Seeing your future as one abounding with possibilities will make you happier than those without goals or who don’t have the inclination to grow. “Aging is inevitable, says Dr. Brandt, and “how we age is largely up to us.”