You know that rush you get when you've achieved the next level in "Clash of Clans," or unlocked a new level by playing a mystery quest in "Candy Crush"? You strut, you tweet, you pat yourself vigorously on the back, you make sure everybody knows your new status in Clan or Crush life, and off you go, to use your newly acquired wisdom and strategies in getting to the next level.
Because yes, there's always a next level- and isn't that the real fun of the game?
So when my girlfriend announced proudly the other day that she'd achieved level 7.0, without even knowing what was the game she'd mastered, I duly applauded and cheered. And then asked, "Uh, sorry, but I've temporarily forgotten--what was the game you were playing?" "Oh!" she replied, grinning from ear to ear, "I turned 70 today!"
As in 70 years old. Wow! What an utterly fabulous attitude. Instead of viewing her years lived as the clock ticking towards her inevitable decline, my friend saw her decades as experience gained in the game of life. As increased wisdom, knowledge, strategies developed for even more thrilling adventures ahead. As new friendships formed, relationships deepened, appreciation increased for the experiences yet to come. Another level accomplished. Yay!
Why would we limit our enthusiasm for levels achieved to those we master on our smartphones? Why not, like my friend, see every year as affording us a new level of prowess, readying us for whatever life offers us next?
Instead of bemoaning the fact that by 30, you're old news and you'd better start lying about your age, that 40 years old is "over the hill," that 50 means you'll start behaving like your parents, and anything over 60 (shudder) is the land of wrinkles, saggy butts and goodbye love life--get in the game!
The FDA recently approved the human clinical trials of metformin as an anti-ageing drug, which could prolong life until 120 years. We're going to need a whole lot of great life-strategies, skills and understandings if we're to achieve level 12.0 with joy and enthusiasm. It will be as impossible to get there with our current way of looking at our later years, as it would be to get to level 200 in "Clash of Clans" with what got you to level 50.
Science is already showing us how a positive view of aging may protect against Alzheimer's disease, and as the research progresses, I have no doubt that those who bravely go where few have dared--into the land of "I'm getting older--Yippee!" will find such an attitude entirely to their benefit.
Indeed, the research already shows that attitudes you hold in your younger years impact how you yourself experience age: 40 year olds who believed that "older people are absent-minded" or "older people have trouble learning new things," were more likely to develop markers of Alzheimer's disease as they got into their late 60s. What you think is what you get.
You don't have to go that route. You can, whatever your current age, look around you at the fantastic folks in their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. My girlfriend is a stunning example: she's vibrant, excited about life, loves her work (yes, she works full time), enjoys her family. What more needs to be said? Every day I come across posts that celebrate the achievements of yet another 80 or 90 or 100 year old. Let their lives inspire you to a very different appreciation for long life, change your perception of what it's like to be 80, 90 and beyond.
Because, let's face it--you hardly want to creep and groan your way to 120. To laugh and dance your way is a lot more fun.