Have you noticed that age changes your perspective on life?
The ‘stuff’ of daily living matters less. There are fewer worries. It’s easier to ignore things that, in the past, might have led to anxiety, frustration, or anger. Negative events, though troubling, are more easily taken in stride. Thinking focuses on the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
If you’ve taken photography classes you know that shooting photos from different perspectives creates interest and new ways of looking at the world. To change perspective you have to move — get up on a chair, crouch on your knees or lie down on the earth. You need to take the photo with a different view of the subject.
Ageing Changes How We See the World
Just as with photography, growing older requires a new way of looking at the world. Actions, attitudes, and decision-making style shift. Risk-taking behaviour decreases. We better understand the consequences of actions such as driving too fast, spending money recklessly, having one extra drink, and making speculative investments. Sometimes this is characterized as thinking and acting ‘old’.
Fortunately, perceptions of ‘old’ also change. Ironically, as we grow older, we start to feel younger. Perhaps our lives are richer; perhaps we learn to appreciate what is around us.
In middle years, the desire for power and success dominates our worldview. I’m relieved that such past stressors are over. The world of work is gone — hence, no thoughts of career, the office, nor the next promotion. If I want or need to learn something new, continuing education happens for personal enjoyment rather than to maintain/enhance professional competence. I’m free to schedule every day with things that I want to do rather than things I need to do.
Psychologist Eric Erickson viewed later life as a time when the impulse to give back to society gained importance. Many elders re-invent themselves by tapping into neglected creative pursuits. They volunteer or find meaning with new careers. Their worldview changes with such activities.
Ageing can take a toll on self-confidence. The mirror sometimes tells as story incongruent with how we see ourselves. Maintaining positive self-esteem while making physical adaptations for an ageing body allows for ageing gracefully. As well, normal age-related changes such as bodies losing strength or pain from chronic health problems change thinking about oneself.
My mother provided an excellent model for maintaining a positive self-image. At age 90, she engaged fully with daily life. She focused on what she would contribute to a bake sale, what she would wear to church or other social events, and what she would accomplish in her garden. Her perspective, regardless of coping with cancer that would eventually be her demise, was that she would contribute to her family, her church, and her community.
Self-image governs self-confidence which is so necessary as we grow older. Maintaining health routines including attention to regular exercise, nutrition, and sleep insure will help to prevent loss of the self-assurance and poise of younger years.
Changes in My Perspective
Getting knocked about by life experience has changed my perspective. My reactions and responses to situations are more practical. There is more tolerance for mistakes of others and more self-forgiveness.
Perhaps, after seven decades, I have finally grown up a bit. I accept imperfections in myself and in others. I let small things go. Things that used to upset me don’t have the same power. I keep my self-respect and don’t depend on the opinions of others to bolster my self-esteem. I know my self-worth and can count on my resourcefulness to solve problems. Burnt toast doesn’t ruin the day — nor does a bad hair day. When facing a tough patch in life, I take the long view remembering that no situation lasts forever. I’m more likely to draw on the wisdom of past experience to deal with present problems.
I realize that time won’t stretch out forever. The future is not as large as when I was 30 or 40 or 50 so it’s important to know what matters in life and what to avoid. I’m more selective about how I spend my time and with whom I spend time. Social relationships are wonderful but I know the value of solitude. Those hours alone are as important as the hours of fun and good conversation.
I worry less about what lies ahead as I recognize that most things are beyond my control. There are still worries especially maintaining good health as I grow older, conserving energy levels and managing finances. Life is fragile but beautiful.
The realization that age changes life’s perspective, allows appreciation of what it looks and feels like to grow old. I focus on the benefits of happiness from good relationships, a relaxed lifestyle, and a peaceful home life. Having a good life is about love, laughter, and hope for a future. Accepting that you are growing older means changing your perspective to continue enjoying every day for the good things it brings.
Thanks for reading this post. I’m interested in your comments regarding life perspective and how it changes over time. If you like my blog, please consider becoming a subscriber and you’ll receive an email whenever I publish a post.