You Can’t Age Your Way into Good Mental Health

“It’s not age that makes you wise.”

Imagine Dragons

• • •

Wisdom… I used to think that being wise would make you well. After living for half a century, I think I’ve learned a few things. But most of what I’ve learned has come through facing hard things, learning from my failures and from the things that haunt me.

Ironically, it is not our successes that make us wise. We learn from our bruises, but they are also the things that can make us lay awake at night.

Another word for wisdom is ‘skeletons.’ I suspect that the difference between being haunted by your past and learning from it is the willingness to look at it. Wisdom, then may be boiled down to one word: willingness.

Another word for wisdom is ‘skeletons.’ I suspect that the difference between being haunted by your past and learning from it is the willingness to look at it. Wisdom, then may be boiled down to one word: willingness.

Whether we are young or old, we are either learning something new or rehashing what we already know. The important question to ask ourselves is when is the last time we learned something new? One of the most endearing, enriching and even annoying things about age is that we have stories to tell. But sometimes we can use our stories to recycle our pains and talk about the pills that we take. The reality is that just having stories to tell will not make you well.

The feature image for this post is taken by a UK photographer, George Redgrave. He took a selfie before attending a panel discussion on “What Makes a Good Selfie?” George has a great sense of humor. Take a moment to look carefully at the full heading for the discussion: “The Curated Ego: What Makes for a Good Selfie.” I can’t imagine my grandfather caring or even understanding what a “Curated Ego” is. I suspect that curating our egos will not cure us of our troubles… and probably will only serve to increase what troubles us.

“I’m at the National Portrait Gallery in London to hear people talk about what makes a good selfie. I’m not sure I’m any wiser but it was quite interesting.” George Redgrave

Sometimes we can use our stories to recycle our pains and talk about the pills that we take. The reality is that just having stories to tell will not make you well.

​One of the authors that I follow is Adrian Shepherd. Adrian is an entrepreneur and he lives in Japan with his family. Recently in the Good Men Project, Adrian wrote an article about what he is trying to teach his son. Left alone children will learn. The question is what.”

We all learn, but the question is what are we learning? Age will not make us well and it may not even make us wise. So what’s left? Will age make us wealthy? Not so fast. Perhaps all that is left is that age will leave us with taxes.

So what are the things make us wise and also well?

  • Learning from your failures
  • Travel and meeting new people
  • Feeling alive, volunteering and doing something that matters to you
  • Overcoming things that could leave you bitter, angry and closed off
  • Honestly facing your weaknesses and listening to your critics
  • Standing up for things that cost you something
  • Allowing life to be what it is (acceptance)… and also refusing to let life keep you down
  • Learning to get past your fear of other people, trust and connect

 

Adrian Shepherd
What’s your formula for aging well? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

• • •

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Keep it Real

Photo by George Redgrave


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