Kicking the Ageist Habit

It hit me like a bolt from the blue

Peter Quarry

It hit me like a bolt from the blue. Major insights usually do. I was getting closer and closer to turning 60… Rationally, I knew 60 was just an ‘arbitrary’ number. But I had a deep feeling of impending doom as I approached, what I described to my friends as, the ‘gates to old age’. However, I was about to discover that I was killing myself.

One day, I read research that showed there was an average of seven years longer lifespan for those with a positive attitude to the ageing process. This instantly made me reflect on my own attitude to ageing, which I realized was far from positive.  But where did my negative views of ageing come from?

I could easily blame an ageist society. I could point an accusing finger at the advertising industry or the media. I could even explain them away using evolutionary psychology. Ultimately, I had to face myself in the mirror and challenge my own acquiescence. I had become addicted to ageism and it was going to shorten my life, considerably. Action was required and we all know that the best way to quit something is to go ‘cold turkey’. So, I immediately decided to change my life story and to celebrate getting older. I started with catching myself out thinking negatively about old people. I began a list of the things that are great, and I mean really great, about getting older. Starting with Item 1: Not being driven by my competitive ego as much. The list is a work in progress… I find I have relapses from time to time. The temptation to conform to the prevailing paradigm is strong. But I am determined to stick to my ageism-cessation program.

I’ll keep you posted from time to time on my progress. Stay tuned!

[Source: Peter Quarry is a former psychologist with a background in education and the media. He is also a qualified designer and artist. He gives talks on the Psychology of Creativity. Visit]