Thoughts on Thinking Old or “Oldthink”

Thinking old can happen at any age. I’ve known 20 somethings who think old and octogenarians who are masters at maintaining a youthful outlook. We Venuses are noticing that some of our parents and contemporaries are falling prey to "thinking old" and we are learning to pay attention to habits we don’t want to fall into.

Hardening of the Attitudes
A concretization of beliefs is hard to flex or break once it sets. The practice of certainty, without allowing for other ideas or input, is a sure sign of "oldthink". While this firmness may masquerade as wisdom, truly wise folks are always reevaluating and learning. The wisest elders I know are clear that they don’t always "know" and express open curiosity about everything.

Pessimism.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket. People are greedy, discourteous, and disrespectful. The work ethic no longer exists. And on and on and on. At what point do we lose our youthful optimism or sense of wonder? When that happens, regardless of chronological age, we are thinking old.

Premature Fatigue
I’m not talking about genuine tiredness. I’m referring to when we get tired BEFORE doing something: Fatigue when merely contemplating an upcoming trip, project, you name it, is a sign of "oldthink". (I fall prey to this one again and again, but I’m diligently working on remembering how much I enjoy a change of scenery or tackling a new project.). Lack of enthusiasm and a decreased capacity for delight and voila, you’re old.

I Deserve It
I’ve lived this long (or worked this hard, waited this long), – I deserve to…………..insert irritating behavior here. People who justify being cranky or difficult based on their longevity, adversity, or suffering are really thinking old. Again, it’s not related to chronological age, but we do see it in selected elders from time to time. It’s very unattractive at any age.

Comfort Rut
In our group of menopausal goddesses, we are constantly assessing our comfort level. Are we too comfortable? Are we avoiding new experiences in favor of what we know? Ruts can be confining as well as comfortable – and we never want to stop growing or learning. So periodically, we’ll fling ourselves out of our comfort zone just to make sure we aren’t stuck in a rut. (Courtney-Venus has a big comfortable brown chair facing a flat screen TV and internet access to connect with all her friends and family. As she says, sometimes we just have to get out of our big brown chairs.)

Forgoing The Future in Favor of Reliving The Past.
I don’t mean that we shouldn’t look back and enjoy our memories. It’s our history and tells us who we are. But we don’t want to be like those people who get stuck in the past (e.g. like those ‘high school was the best time of my lifers’). That is truly "oldthink". We want to use the past to help inform our future. We want to look ahead at least as much as we look back, probably more! We are a work in progress and we can’t wait to see how we’ll turn out!

Paranoia
People are out to get you. While it is true that there are those who prey on the elderly, the naive, and the overly trusting among us, it isn’t every second person you meet. Because they simply don’t have TIME. Be smart, but don’t waste time fretting about the hidden motives of others or looking for the dark cloud hiding inside each silver lining. We think unbridled mistrust is a sign of "oldthink" too.

The Secret of Long, Happy Life
On Phil Donahue years ago, I saw a show on people who lived to be over 100. Phil asked them the secret of long life. One man insisted that it was worcestershire sauce 3 times a day. One woman said exercise daily. I swear that one man said whiskey and cigars. What did all these centenarians have in common, really? Excitement. Interest in life. They couldn’t wait to get up in the morning. They were the antithesis of "oldthink".

At our most recent gathering the Venuses discussed ensuring that we don’t fall victim to "oldthink". We want to stay open to new ideas, cultivate enthusiasm, listen to others, and gaze forward at least as much as we peek in the rear view mirror. Our goals are to keep moving, keep learning, keep listening, keep growing ourselves, and keep a big, YOUNG smile on our faces. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

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4 Responses to Thoughts on Thinking Old or “Oldthink”

  1. Betty Zahler September 23, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    How profound is the so-called old thinking. As a very old Venus, can say everyday is a time to learn and discover new visions. when we stop learning, we literally stop living. The brain must have stimulation in order to keep active and ultimately we stay young at all we do. Once again kudos to Lynette, on this vital point in our lives.

  2. Theresa Souers September 23, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Oh great! Just when I was getting comfortable and thinking was deserving of being a crotchity ole' gal. Now, it looks like it is time for some more inner reflection and personal finger shaking.

    Fabulous, as always.

  3. Peggy Kemp September 23, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Lynette-Venus! What a GREAT blog. I read about 10 pages all at once and only quit because I had to get some sleep. Before I slept, though, I sent the page about the night terrors and insomnia to 6 friends, including my sister. I already got two responses that were grateful. And I am grateful I don't have all these symptoms! I had artificially induced menopause (read total hysterectomy) at the age of 40, did HRT for 2 years, weaned myself off completely when I moved to Hawaii, and have had only the odd hot flash since.

    I didn't know you were such a good writer, Lynette. I knew you were a good hula dancer!

    I was mildly confused by the menopausal numbering system on your pages, but after a while I figured it out.

    Mahalo!

  4. Jacqueline September 23, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Great post — I just sent a link to my husband who seems to be teetering on the brink of diving headfirst in the "old think" tank. Good information for Venus and Mars!

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