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Firstly: you are beautiful. Or handsome. Or whatever you prefer to be called.

Secondly: Don’t anyone, ever, let you feel you’re not. There’s no such thing as a key to happiness, but if there were, this would be one of them.

The euphemism “aging gracefully” is one way society tries to convince you you’re not. That you’re not only looking older, but that you’re somehow inadequate or not good enough. Not beautiful enough.


“Aging gracefully” is nothing more than a false, feel-good, passive-aggressive politeness.

As if, once you hit a certain number, real life as you know it ends and no matter how hard you try, you become a fossilized husk fighting to preserve your vitality. Fearing that, in the end, it will never work.

Consider—“aging gracefully ” is actually a conspiracy. A conspiracy to get you to doubt yourself. Because if you doubt yourself and begin to think “I will never measure up,” you will do anything to feel better. You’ll be tempted to finally conform to some impossible standard, only achievable by purchasing this device, that shapewear, or this surgical intervention. Then, wouldn’t you know it! Some company is right there with the solution you need. Only they can rescue you from your prison of self-loathing, for three easy installments of something-nintety-nine!

Yes, aging sucks.

Things sag in places you wish they didn’t. You pass a mirror and wonder where the hell your 25 year-old self went. Maybe you can’t see or hear as sharply as you used to. Things appear on your skin that didn’t used to be there. You get frighteningly closer to, or even reach, colonoscopy age.

Sure, it sucks. The solution, however, is not that you need some product to feel better.

The solution is that… there is no solution. (And certainly not one that comes from a bottle or tube or scalpel.)

The solution is… to simply let go.

This doesn’t mean let yourself go, and give up. This means let go of all the ways you are allowing other people to tell you how to look and feel. Stop giving up your power, stop feeling inadequate and unworthy. And maybe, instead—try having a bit of compassion for yourself.

So, if some slick ad is trying to sell you makeup, or Spanx, or hair coloring, or “body sculpting”—just don’t buy it. Give your skin and hair and body a break. Allow each to do what it was born to do: show up with its own intrinsic personality.

For that matter, allow yourself to be who you were born to be. (Why do you want to look like everyone else, anyway?)

What we think of as “aging” is simply an accumulation of stress and societal conditioning that piles up on us over the years, slowly and subtly, while we’re not paying attention. So, to reverse this conditioning, we need to first: be aware of it, and second: try to do the opposite of what it’s pressuring us to do.

You really want to slow the aging process? Stop being such a damned adult all the time! You want to be younger? Start acting more like a kid!

The first rule of deprogramming yourself from this ageist bullshit: don’t take yourself too seriously.

Don’t take life too seriously. Show up every day for yourself first, everyone else second.

Breathe deeply as a habit. Make eye contact with other people. Smile. Laugh freely and wholeheartedly.

Dance. Make art or music. (Or look at art, or listen to music daily. Not just as background noise or atmosphere! Really look and listen.)

Get outside and play, every day. Walk in nature, and see what She’s up to right now, at this very moment. Look at the sky, and watch the clouds chase each other—marvel how the sky changes from minute to minute. Allow yourself to drop everything and be entertained by the natural world. Like a child.

Do something you enjoy every day. For that matter, go do something you always wanted to do as a kid!

As you let go, you’ll release the weight of the stress you’ve been carrying, and feel lighter.

And feeling lighter makes you feel and look younger. Remember how light you felt as a kid? You could run for hours, hair streaming out behind you, goofy smile plastered on your face… yes, of course you remember. So stop making excuses—you can clean the bathroom another day, dammit—and embrace that person, that joy that still lives within you!

Age? Screw it. It’s all in your head.

Heather Shaff

Heather Shaff is a cyclist, writer, and mom based in Boston. She's fascinated by all things growth, motivation, and learning... and will drop everything for chocolate ice cream.

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