Aging Exuberantly

by Jay Hiller, January 30, 2023

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

About a week ago, The New York Times published an article, 3 steps to aging exuberantly in which they discussed three ideas from the work of Margareeta Magnusson, an 86-year-old Swedish author and artist. The ideas come from her latest book, The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly: Life Wisdom from Someone Who Will (Probably) Die Before You. Unfortunately, my attempt to provide a link to the article didn’t work. I’m always interested in good role models for aging well, so here are the three ideas as I understand them.

  1. Embrace kärt besvär, which means, find the joy in the stuff that’s irritating or annoying. The article quotes Ms. Magnusson as saying, “There seems to be no other choice than to see every nuisance as something I must find a way to cherish.”
  2. Surround yourself with the young. Young people provide us with fresh ideas and perspectives and help us stay in tune with the young people we once were. There seems to be some evidence that being around the young helps prevent cognitive decline.
  3. Say yes whenever possible. The idea that rigidity is an inherent feature of age, is a misconception that has been internalized by many older people. Saying yes is synonymous with being exploratory and curious and saying yes to life.

I like all three of these ideas and I’m looking forward to reading this book and hoping I can pick up some tips. When I worked in a hospital, I remember a rehabilitation patient, the left side of his face paralyzed, telling me with the flat affect that comes with a stroke on the right side of your brain, that aging isn’t for sissies. I believe it and also believe you probably can’t prepare yourself too much for it.

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