With age comes increased acceptance
The popular associations with ageing aren’t all that flattering. People think of declining health and lack of pleasure in activities that were once joyful and life-giving (like sports, eating, dancing etc.), combined with failing eyesight (which could mean reading lesser) and degrading joint health (leading to finding trouble doing even simple actions like climbing the stairs, taking longer walks etc.)
It can’t also be denied that this picture of ageing is also not all that far from the truth. However, what it misses is the quality of acceptance that ageing brings with it. Especially if people choose to be mindful and conscious about the changes that their bodies and minds are undergoing.
In a study featured in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers explored the important relationship between age and acceptance. The study was conducted across 340 subjects, ranging from ages 21 to 73. It was to find out what factors worked as a cushion to negotiate greater physical and mental challenges, along with negative emotions that resulted from them.
Acceptance turned out to be that one salvaging factor and the study observed that it only seems to grow as people grow older.
The study also defined what acceptance is and what it is not – that acceptance certainly is not resignation or optimism or avoidance of painful emotions. Instead it is a non-judgmental engagement with whatever emerges emotionally and physically. Acceptance has in fact been found to regulate difficult emotions and create an internal landscape that more adept at handling the decline of health.
By enumerating why ageing can actually work for some of us, doesn’t stop it from having it’s share of challenges. As we age, we transform in more ways than one and it can indeed be tough to keep up and make peace with all the changes we experience.
However, if we were to trust the process more than resist it, I wonder what that might mean for all of us as we go through the inevitability of ageing and decline.
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