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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Few

We don't Stop Playing Because we Grow old; we Grow old Because we Stop Playing.

Theorists suggest we have three ages:

Our chronological age; the number of years that have elapsed since we were born.

Biological age; how old our bodies are. Scientists can measure this by examining age-related biomarkers such as blood pressure and lung capacity.

Our subjective age; how old we feel we are.

And recent research suggests our subjective age can be a real determinate for fighting off the manifestation of old age and even death! A ten-year study (1) of nearly 4000 people showed we often hold a younger temperament when we are thinking young and as we know from the Hot Cross Bun, how we feel impacts on our behaviour and often our physiological self.

We are not talking about embracing an immature mindset here, in fact research suggests that we can harbour this fun-loving approach, but still be benefiters of age by holding the wisdom of life experience. Specifically including the ability to be conscientious alongside the calmness of experience as well as appreciating things from a myriad of age perspectives.

As with all things to do with the brain we know that the way we think is often the cause of actual brain matter change. Powerful ‘young thinking strategies’ have been shown (3) to increase brain matter and lessen the risk of deterioration in the areas we often see affected from dementia, so in other words, you can think yourself young. This is much in the same way that taxi drivers are shown to have an enlarged hippocampus as a direct result of the day to day thought processes involved in learning a wide geographical area.

In the wonderful world of psychology its often hard to argue a direct causal link e.g. what causes the other, with age and persona indeed it also seems to be more of a chicken and egg situation as a young mental attitude may also encourage you to stay active and keep learning which in turn is good for the mind. So, it's no surprise to learn to keep this young mindset also increase lifespan. Therefore, its key to keep being down with kids’ guys.

The point at which mental age starts to slip is suggested to be between 50-65 (4), however as age is as much of a social construct as time, is it not important to challenge the norm of how old you are at any point? So much in terms of age is pushed by societal norms e.g.when we are expected to leave education, what age denotes us as a 'teenager', when you can retire or how old you have to be to do certain things. Though some of these pre-determined societal rules are with an aim to protect, could we not argue they are no more fitting to the individual than the recommended daily calorie amount (which FYI is so arbitrary it is not worth the public health websites it is written on).

Openness is seen as a key trait to staying young e.g. being open to the new fads that come across your path and supporting the snowflakes of the next-gen. Arguably one of the biggest reasons we find ourselves in the middle of a war between the 'silent generation' (who are not so silent) and snowflakes is because those aged 75 to 80, from the silent gen, have a lack of appreciation for the youngest generations issues and future problems. More broadly being open means you are going to keep learning, which means new experiences which keep the soul alive and are proven to stave off dementia. This is why if we are going to choose to jump on that roller coaster of societal norms, we should at least be choosing to do so rather than being carried away with the mundanity of the norm.

A study in 2018 (5) found being engaged with younger friends and peer groups will have a direct impact on your ‘mental age’. This is pretty logical; for just as experiencing new cultures widens our tastes and perceptions, inter-generational activity will do this also. Surely as we only have one life to live it's important to experience all facets of it? Can we ever understand the individual who never tastes the world outside their peer group and place of birth yet goes on to question other people’s way of living – I don’t know about you, but there is something shifty about these people.

An interesting activity to task yourself with is to look at your inner sphere and consider how it’s given you tunnel vision, how are you meant to have conceptions of other possibilities if you have had no experience of what they might be?

Complete the following table (your trusted 10 are quite literally that, the people you go to for verification your living life the best way);

Notice anything?

Now if you're happy with your sphere you do hun and you can continue to be conned by society's dark targeted marketing that plays you down a set road because it knows you better than you know yourself. If, however, you're ready to take that next step and expand your internal sphere, welcome, here is to longevity, new experiences and fun.

Lots of Love Becky xxx



1- Stephan, Sutin, and Terracciano (2015), Subjective Age and Personality Development: A 10‐Year Study. J Pers, 83: 142-154. doi:10.1111/jopy.12090

2- Weiss, David & Weiss, Mona. (2019). Why People Feel Younger: Motivational and Social-Cognitive Mechanisms of the Subjective Age Bias and its Implications for Work and Organizations.

3 - Aycheh, Seong, Shin, Kang, Seo, & Sohn (2018). Biological Brain Age Prediction Using Cortical Thickness Data: A Large Scale Cohort Study. Frontiers in ageing neuroscience, 10, 252. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2018.00252

4 - Kornadt, Hess, Voss, Rothermund, Subjective Age Across the Life Span: A Differentiated, Longitudinal Approach, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Volume 73, Issue 5, July 2018, Pages 767–777,

5 - Chopik, Bremner, R. H., Johnson, D. J., & Giasson, (2018). Age Differences in Age Perceptions and Developmental Transitions. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 67. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00067

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