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.
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.
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.
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!
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.