Last week I had a conversation with a member of our community on the privilege of ageing. We have been taught to think about many things in life in a binary fashion. Black and white feels so much easier than welcoming shades of grey. But as we embrace longer lives, as our ambitions push out beyond traditional milestones (and limitations), we’re seeing a huge body of research into what a good life looks like. And how we can ensure we age well.
In his book, ‘Bolder; making the most of our longer lives’, Carl Honore, who also wrote the seminal ‘Thinking fast and slow’, explores ageing from the perspective of science. It is a radical rethink - on everything from education, healthcare work and design. And what is fascinating is the insight into the ingredients that, time and time again, make for a life well lived. It is these same elements that Louise Aronson spotlights in her book, Elderhood; Redefining ageing, Transforming medicine, Reimagining life. Here are a few of our favourites;
If you’ve an idea. Now is the time to act. In the UK, the over 50s are starting companies more than any other age group. What is giving them the edge over younger entrepreneurs? Experience. And the ability to spot the niche (let’s face it, our life-stage is rarely catered for well.)
If you want to work, explore new working models. A quarter of Uber drivers are now over 50. The fastest-growing age group for hosts on AirBnB is the over-60s. 1 in 4 Americans who work in the ‘sharing economy’ is over 55.
But whatever you do with your time, make sure it has purpose. Honore writes;
‘on the island of Okinawa, a Blue Zone off the eastern coast of Japan..the locals have no word for ‘retire’ because they do not suddenly go from productive to unproductive, from maker to taker, in later life. Instead, they are animated throughout their lives by what they call ikigai, a Japanese concept that translates roughly as ‘a reason to get up in the morning’. This raison d’etre can be anything - work, art, family - and can change at different stages of life’.
Choose your frames of references. Control your own media. We’ve written at length on the impact of negative representations of menopause and ageing (particularly for women). But we have a choice on the threads we follow and the content we consume. Find the brands, magazine titles, individuals living life in colour. And if you need a little inspiration - seek out @themiddleagedgoddess and @and.bloom on instagram.
Find people you can laugh with. You’ll live longer - 8 years longer according to psychologists at the University of Akron in Ohio;
‘You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing’ George Bernard Shaw
Mingle more. Cross generational communities and individuals thrive. We all become less judgemental. We all learn more
Nourish your body. Eat as an act of self care. Select the stuff that you know does good. You’ve earned it. Listen to your body too. Supplement smartly (we may know a great supplement range focused on your second spring if you’ve not tried it already!). Don’t accept aches and pains as inevitable. Stay curious. We’re learning more about the potential of food as medicine every day. From its ability to mitigate our risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes...cancers to its ability to help us live longer lives. Increasingly what we put on our plate has the potential to support - and in some cases, replace pharmaceutical interventions. Harness that potential.
Move more. Our bodies were made to move. And, contrary to popular belief, as we age our bodies are capable of much more than we think.
The other point Honore’s book consistently returns to is the growing recognition, within research circles, of the value we bring as we age. Far from being a burden. As we age we bring a wealth of value - to society, to those we love. It is to be celebrated.
The World Bank recently concluded that;
‘...ageing does not necessarily imply substantial increases in dependency ratios, declines in productivity, or stark choices between unsustainable fiscal positions and widespread poverty among the elderly’...Infact ‘societies top heavy with experienced citizens will have a resource never before available to our ancestors; large numbers of people with considerable knowledge, emotional evenness, practical talents, creative problem solving ability, commitment to future generations, and the motivation to use their abilities to improve societies in ways never before possible’.
That doesn’t sound so bad to us?
Our philosophy at MPowder is a whole body view. We believe in the power of nutrition and supplementation. We also believe in the power of lifestyle interventions, a range of holistic practices and the nurturing of the mind. At the heart of it all is the nourishment of self. The recognition that ‘we do matter’. And the opportunity to grasp part 2 with both hands. This, our second spring, is our time.
With love, the MPowder Team.