Redefine aging in your own mind It’s tough to grow old in America, especially as women. We’re a culture that values youth and beauty to the extreme. On television and the big screen, commercials and shows use women in their 50s to portray women in their 70s, sending the message that growing old is not attractive. It’s a rare star who doesn’t get plastic surgery to keep a youthful look, and the topics of combatting signs of aging and staying beautiful are the mainstay of most women’s magazines. If we bump along with society, we’re going to fight aging as best we can and feel bad about ourselves every time we find a gray hair or see a wrinkle in the mirror. It’s better to step back and redefine aging for ourselves.

Consider how you personally define aging. Do you see it all as a negative? With aging comes some unexpected positives—one is feeling good in your own skin. You know yourself and trust yourself more. You make fewer life mistakes, fewer regrets about skills or abilities or personality traits that you don’t have and more acceptance. You care much less about what people think of you. You start thinking about what matters to you most and bringing more of that into your life. 

It’s true, the physical aspects of growing older are not fun, and if we had the choice many of us would turn back the hands of time—at least a little—as we grow old. Who wants to wear bifocals and feel stiffness in the morning? Who wants to be seen as a ma’am rather than a miss? Wrinkles will come, and we’ll have to work harder to stay healthy. Yet we have more power to combat signs of aging than you might think. Research says our genes are responsible for just 25 percent of how we physically age. Stress, lifestyle habits and our immunity also play big roles, and these we have control over. We can choose to exercise regularly, keep our minds stimulated, get good sleep, eat well, drink less or no alcohol, not smoke, and control our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Starting these healthy lifestyle habits in your 30s means you’ll feel fewer signs of aging in your 50s. It’s a well-known fact that people who abuse their bodies age faster.  

When it comes down to it, aging is really a state of mind. If you have a positive attitude and believe you can take action to improve your health, you’ll feel—and act—younger. Exercise lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases the feel-good hormone serotonin. If you have a solid workout routine, be grateful. The habit of regular exercise will become only more engrained as you age and will become easier. It’s almost like your body will crave it and rise to it like it didn’t when you were young. Exercise also becomes less about looking good and more about being healthy. 

If you want to take action to keep your face looking young, go for it. You are not alone. In fact 62 percent of American women ages 35 to 54 in a recent survey say that when they shop for skincare products, antiaging properties are extremely important. After all, we all want to look our best.

Maybe as we age we can’t remember every detail like we could when we were younger, but you know what? The expertise we’ve gained in our work makes up for it. Life experience, on all counts, makes us more able to live with intention, purpose and go about our days with fewer screw-ups.

According to Walter Bortz, MD, author of “Living Longer for Dummies…” aging is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Decide to redefine aging for yourself, and look to the positives it will bring. Don’t fret about signs of aging, enjoy the youth you still have. At 40 you’ll look back and wish you appreciated the body and face and hair you had in your 20s; at 60, you’ll wish you spent more time enjoying the youthfulness of your 40s. Appreciate your youth, right now.