Psychological Effects of Trying to Stay Young

The media is obsessed with the way stars look as they age and they delight in printing unflattering shots of a time-ravaged Madonna or a paunchy Harrison Ford caught unawares on a remote beach.

As our society often looks to the stars, literally, as role models, many of us try to emulate their looks, including the stars increasing pursuit of youth. But how emotionally healthy is it for us to relentlessly chase the fountain of youth?

The milestone age of 40 is a big one for most of us. It reminds us that we are no longer truly young, and gives us an opportunity to assess our lives to date. Where we sometimes go wrong is in not focusing on what we have achieved in our career, our life partner, our children, our assets and our community service. Instead we sometimes look at what we have lost.

Focusing on the loss of our once thick, lustrous hair, smooth, shiny, unlined skin, and perfect thighs and then to embark on an expensive and ultimately pointless attempt to retrieve the person that we were at 20 only leads to despair.

Despite rapid improvements in plastic surgery, a 45 year old woman who has had plastic surgery simply looks just that – a 45 year old woman who has had plastic surgery. It is not necessarily a good look. Sure, it’s wise to exercise, keep out of the sun and develop a happy disposition to keep droopy face-lines at bay, but the single-minded pursuit of youth is pointless. After all, how long can one deceive oneself?

The sad component of trying desperately to stay young is that it denies us embracing the positive aspects of aging. In rejecting aging, we have the unfortunate effect of negating the value of older people, who have much to contribute to our knowledge base.

Of course, negating the value of older people also negates our own value as we age. So the next time you see a wrinkle, smile and enjoy it. Aging is a natural process, and while we hunt for preservative-free produce in our supermarkets, perhaps we might heed the same advice for our looks!

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