Wishful Thinking: Erroneous Belief
- POSTED ON: Jan 13, 2018

Appearances Can Be Decieving
- POSTED ON: Jan 06, 2018

Comfortable in Your Own Skin
- POSTED ON: Dec 19, 2017

Growing Old Gracefully
- POSTED ON: Dec 03, 2017


We start out young. 
If we stay alive long enough, we get old. 
Then we die.
This is the inescapable truth about Life.

When I think of growing old gracefully, the image of Aunt Bee of Mayberry comes to mind.  Aunt Bee’s common and comfortable look was similar to most of the older ladies in my 1950’s childhood world.  And I don't know anyone who doesn't love the warm and caring character portrayed as Aunt Bee.

During past times, it seemed to be common knowledge that what was appropriate was....

Young people were to look fresh and trim,

Older people were to be comfortable in their own plump skin, wrinkles and all.

But, Nowadays….

The article below says it really wel

Growing Old Gracefully?
         by Patricia Brozinsky

What does it mean to "grow old gracefully?"  I recently saw a television commercial which gave me the idea for this article.

In the commercial a dermatologist and his wife, a psychotherapist, emphasize that they want to "grow old gracefully" thus explaining the reason they each swallow 25 supplements per day.

I don't believe swallowing pills will make us graceful, which is defined as “lithe, agile, dainty, pretty, delicate, handsome and trim”. Thus, their meaning of "growing old gracefully" eluded me.

Unless we die young most of us will eventually look old. And, people who look old …. gray haired and wrinkled, gnarled arthritic fingers and toes, bent over from osteoporosis, and because of age-related-slow-metabolism or water retention have gained weight …. are regrettably not considered among the in-group who are "growing old gracefully." These poor folks are rarely portrayed in the commercials.

So, does "growing old gracefully" really mean to "look good," and "to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye”?

Let's never forget the precious message of the fox from, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's children's book, The Little Prince. The fox said, "What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Being lithe, agile, dainty, pretty, delicate, handsome and trim are qualities usually no longer available to the elderly among us. Let's face it even some younger members of society will never possess these qualities.

So, maybe now is a good time for us to reconsider what's important in life. Suddenly my mind fills with an the images of: being gracious; accepting conditions; being charitable; acting kindly; caring; having compassion; behaving lovingly; and being generous. These are but a few of the many ways to express "grace". Then the phrase "growing old gracefully" would metamorphose into "growing old with grace".

The implication from advertisements is that to "grow old gracefully"  you must have few if any wrinkles (you've had a face-lift, Botox or collagen injections), your hair has color (because you dye it- highlights and low-lights), you're thin (probably had liposuction, diet fanatically, and spend all your time at the gym), you have great physical prowess (good for you - for now), your body is well proportioned (you work out and diet excessively or you've had implants), and you swallow upwards of 25 supplements per day (hey, someone has to fund the industry).

"Growing old with grace" means knowing your limitations and shifting your activities when your aging body cries out "enough!" as it begs you to change from the strenuous sport your ego loves, to an activity it can more easily tolerate.

And, more importantly, grace would mean that you would finally accept your new limitations.

Maybe "growing old with tolerance" would be an even more accurate way to describe what our society craves. This would mean that we would grow old and become broadminded, open-minded, lenient, accepting and patient.

According to Erik Erikson, the German psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on human social development, our lifetime spans eight stages.  Stage 8 involves age 65 to death - Integrity vs. Despair, where the optimal potential solution is "Wisdom," which, among other things, is the acceptance of one's life.

“Wisdom” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “knowledge, insight and judgment”. I do do not believe that swallowing supplements would ever provide any of us with the quality of  "wisdom".

Nowadays, when people say they want to "grow old gracefully" they really mean that as the years pass and their birthdays tell the story of their timeline, that they will do anything to look young and convince others to believe that they are young.

In the 2010s, age is unfortunately seen as a curse.
And, the greater evil is that we do not venerate our elderly.

Is there anything graceful about desperately clinging to youth - causing us to swallow 25 pills per day, subjecting our bodies to cosmetic surgery, obsessively exercising, fanatically dieting, sometimes binging and purging, wearing clothes designed for adolescents, and even mimicking the verbal expressions, facial and hand gestures of the youth - the very generation born to replace us?

So what does 'growing old gracefully' really mean? 

Examine your reasons for dieting and exercising until you're a size one for an aging woman and a 32 waist for an aging man;
Examine why you would subject your body to a myriad of cosmetic surgical procedures;
Examine why you would purchase all kinds of anti-wrinkle creams; 
Examine why you would wear tight low-cut Capri-pants that expose your belly, along with midriff tops that expose your upper "six-pack" abdomen.

Are you really 'growing old gracefully'?

Or, as the years pass, which they do for everyone
(if you're lucky), and the adding machine calculates (which it does) is your psyche really denying the meaning behind all this?

...That no matter how desperately you cling to youth, you will die.

...We all die.

'What does 'growing old gracefully' mean to you? And, what do you suppose it means to others who are aging as you are aging?

Does the mirror, mirror on the wall really tell it all?

Are you really "growing old gracefully" at sixty years old, when WHAT you see in the mirror looking back at you is "yourself at forty"?

Whom have you really deceived - are you really still forty?

Or, w
hen you lie in your coffin will you merely be masquerading as a forty year old?
And, those who attend your wake, waiting their turn, whisper among themselves how well-preserved you are!

There’s an old saying:  "A rose is a rose is a rose." I believe that our chronological age ........ despite our body's appearance, despite the sums of money we spend, the amount of exercise we do, or amount of self-denial we engage in, ........... remains our chronological age.

In other words, "Your age is your age is your age."
And, no matter what you do, you can't fool Mother Nature!

Patricia Brozinsky, Ph.D. is a New York psychotherapist. She co-authored along with James A. Gibson, "Eat or Be Eaten: The Truth About Our Species, the Marriage of Darwin and Machiavelli," a book about human behavior.


Originially posted in June 2016.  Bumped up for new viewers. 


Healthism: the modern religion
- POSTED ON: Nov 15, 2017

“Healthism,” is the moral righteousness we attribute to a lifestyle that prioritizes health and fitness over anything else.

Put bluntly, healthism involves seeing health as an individual matter, a primary value, and a moral index: basically, "if you get sick, it’s your fault."
Health-related social stigma, … unfairly judging the character of ourselves or others based on health status or health choices, … has become a problem within our present culture.
“I’m doing this for my health” has become the standard new-age bullshit excuse for whatever dieting or eating behaviors we choose for ourselves.   Like, no matter how bizarre that behavior might be, how could any reasonable person ever object to such a Noble Purpose?

We make judgment calls based on what we assume health is.  We condemn and bless and decide who is with us and who is against us. We cast out the sinners,  embrace the saints of Healthism, and preach it on every street corner.

In our culture human beings now have the duty to be perceived as “Healthy” individuals.  Healthy is the new good. Unhealthy is bad.  Celebrities, athletes, and nutrition gurus are our idols and preachers. Fast food places and fat or unhealthy people are our outcasts and enemies.

There is nothing wrong with desiring to be healthy.  That is a normal wish for a happy life.  However, it becomes a problem when we turn being healthy into an obligation … making it a standard that applies to everyone in our culture.

Turning health into an obligation, or a standard of morality, belittles people who fail to measure up to the standard of whatever might be considered healthy. Whether or not a person is healthy is NOT something that each of us gets to decide.  Some of us are born with disabilities, others with chronic illnesses, others fall sick later in life or have trauma or mental health issues.

Most of the people who suffer from these conditions would rather have them gone, but the fact is that many people are forced to live with the fact that … for them  … poor health is here to stay. 
An unhealthy person isn’t always the fat person in a wheelchair that you saw go into McDonalds. Even if it was, how do you KNOW if they are unhealthy because they are fat or if they were born unable to walk and became fat because of it?

WHY a person is unhealthy should not matter. THAT a person is unhealthy should not matter. WHAT should matter is that unhealthy people want to live their life just like everyone else, without the added difficulty of having to prove that they are not to blame for their condition.

Nowadays, even people born with disabilities are told that they would be better if they just think positive, exercise more or eat differently. Millions of dollars are being made by milking ‘cures’ for conditions like Autism, Down Syndrome etc, even though they are known to be genetic conditions. A diet won’t change a genetic condition. By shifting our focus toward the Behavior of the disabled, we make them responsible for their condition. We tell ourselves that if the disabled really wanted to be healthy they would change.

Our culture has an obsession with weight loss and thinness.

People are told they should attempt weight loss “for health reasons”.  Why?  Since there is no actual scientific proof that weight actually CAUSES any health issues, exactly how would losing weight be a way to CURE health issues?

There is no level of “unhealthy” that requires anyone to diet or to hate their body, and there’s also no reason to believe that either dieting or self-hatred will help them become healthier or happier. 

The fact is that most dieters are NOT successful at losing a lot of weight, ... and more than 95% of those few dieters who ARE successful at losing a lot of weight ... cannot keep that weight off long-term.

This means that weight loss fails almost all the time.  When a prescription fails almost all the time, … consistently for more than 50 years, … the solution is not to keep prescribing it as a “healthy” intervention.  The solution is not to tell people to try harder, or to rename that prescription by changing its name from “Diet” to “Lifestyle change”.

No one has a duty to be fit and lean; to become thin; or to have a BMI inside the “normal” range

People get to prioritize their own health.  That means they are allowed to drink like a fish, jump out of helicopters wearing skis, take stressful jobs, not get enough sleep, eat what they choose, and be sedentary at whatever weight they happen to be. 

There are many people of very different weights that have the very same diet and exercise routines, as well as people of the same weight who have very different diet and exercise routines. 

Acting as if all fat people are unhealthy because they engage in unhealthy behaviors, and that all thin people are healthy because they have healthy habits, is not supported by the evidence.  It is stereotyping and bigotry, pure and simple.

In our culture, Health has become the holy grail. Everyone is chasing it, but few hold it, and even those who hold it only have it for a short while.  Every human being will experience death, and people who live long enough will eventually fall into the darkness and ‘sin’ of ill health. 

Health is the modern religion.

People convert to different sects in droves … committing fervently to a dietary path of choice … and truly believing that "this way of eating" will save them.

People cling steadfastly to the beliefs...

.....that they can make themselves “pure” or even immortal...

....that they can outsmart disease and death by making “correct” food choices …

.....spending hours studying the literature and listening to gurus in their search for that golden key.

The idea that we can outsmart disease and death … that we can effectively prevent “bad things” from happening to us if we make the “right” food choices … is particularly interesting, considering how incredibly faith-based, and un-scientific, this sentiment really is.

Food isn’t even close to the top of the list of things that will likely kill us. 

Genetics, environment, age, and various factors outside of our control are far better predictors of illness or death … yet we cling desperately to the delusion that food is the primary determinant of our fate, frantically trying to “play God” through our food choices.

Of course, this belief puts an enormous amount of pressure on our food choices, which inevitably leads to anxiety, frustration, and guilt whenever we “slip,” eat the “wrong” thing, or even when we become ill.

We might be able to avoid these anxieties if we embraced the Uncertainty of Life. If we remembered that the human body is Designed to break down over time; that Death is an inevitability, not a punishment that can be avoided through righteousness.

Here is the Truth:  Health is not an obligation; a barometer of our worthiness; entirely within our control; or guaranteed under any circumstances.

We don’t have to make our self-confidence, our self-esteem, or our self-worth contingent on our health.   We are worthy, no matter what.

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