Last week I shared photos of my newly remodelled flat and received an overwhelming ‘thumbs-up’ from the vast majority of you. One comment simply said ‘Each to his own’ which made me laugh out loud.
But - how true! And, of course I have no idea how many of you thought my bright magenta sofa ghastly, but decided to ‘hold your wheesht’ as my Scottish granny would have said if I’d had one. However, I have realised that moving back to a very familiar place which now looks completely different in every respect, has been really good for me.
I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that the last two or three years of social restrictions and lockdowns had accelerated a tendency in me to become a happy recluse.
Initially, like many older people, I was extremely fearful of what Covid might mean, but as the days and weeks passed and the worst thankfully didn’t happen, I gradually adjusted to the limitations and increased isolation and began to love the fact that I couldn’t go anywhere or see anyone. And the more I became content to fill my downtime with jigsaws and podcasts, the more I knew that I had to fight that tendency with every fibre of my being. Why? Because it is a slippery slope down which I could easily slide to a place where, using my advancing age as the perfect excuse, I’d be absolutely safe and also absolutely stuck.
It’s well documented that as we age everything about us starts to ossify. It’s not just our bones that become more brittle and rigid, but our attitudes too. A review of 92 scientific studies shows that intellectual curiosity declines with age. We stop being so open to the stimulus, not only of aesthetic and cultural interests, but also of more exciting or scary activities. That can be eminently sensible if you’ve just had a new hip fitted, but not so good if it makes you less creative and more narrow-minded in your views.
A review of 88 studies in 12 countries also shows that older people are generally less tolerant of ambiguity and have a higher need for structure and closure. This means that we are more likely to make categorical judgements about events, things and people because preserving (and using) old knowledge is more important to us than acquiring new knowledge.
A final reason for rigid attitudes is a preference for familiarity. Order and predictability enable us to feel safe and lessen the stress that comes from disruption and change. It can become a vicious circle: the smaller we make our world, the more secure we feel; the more secure we feel, the more we restrict our opportunities for external stimulus by staying put.
I see many of these tendencies both in myself and in other older people that I encounter. I hear them making judgments about life now and comparing what is currently happening with what happened in the past, and invariably it is ‘now’ that is found wanting, rather than the ‘then’ of our younger lives. So what to do? One solution is to use the excuse that ‘at your age’ you know what you like, what you think and what’s good and bad, right and wrong and get up on your high horse and stay there. Or, if that holds little appeal because you find yourself feeling irritated and angry about much that is happening, you could find ways to challenge yourself to live in the world in a different way.
Moving back into my flat has pushed me to do just that. A tiny thing like using a different kettle every day reminds me that change is good. I have had to learn how all the new appliances work, which slowed me down and irritated me at first, but now I have finally mastered the dratted induction hob, I have come to love its sleek modernity compared to my clunky old gas one. That experience must surely be a metaphor for why we need to embrace rather than resist (or despise) the world as it is now.
So I have been giving some thought to simple ways that we can shake ourselves out of that tendency to become less open-minded, more judgemental and to prefer familiarity rather than change as we get older. And, given that we can’t keep moving house to give us a new outlook, I have concentrated on small, easy, daily decisions that we can take to challenge the status quo.
Change Your Look - Clothes
Is it any wonder that we get stuck in a clothes rut when there is so little to inspire us to try new looks? I rarely see anyone who looks like me showing styles which I might try, so I tend to fall back on what I know suits me and is comfortable to wear.
My first purchase for the SS23 is this ‘jeans’ jacket from Bella Di Notte (see above). As you can see it’s a very punchy, vibrant fuchsia pink and I love it! It’s going to fit perfectly into my existing wardrobe and give every outfit a lift. My challenge to you is to add one pop of really zingy bright colour to your wardrobe every day - a necklace, scarf, pair of earrings, handbag, pair of glasses or a top in a colour which you wouldn’t normally risk. You could then share the result on our Super Troopers page and if you haven’t found the joy of STs yet, why not take the risk of joining our life-affirming group? I can guarantee that you’ll get both a warm welcome and also meet lots of inspirational women.
Change Your Look - Makeup
Ten years ago I was told by a male beauty insider that Look Fabulous Forever would fail because ‘older women don’t buy makeup’. My mission was to prove him wrong and I feel that I have largely succeeded. My new mission is to persuade all of you to keep experimenting with your makeup and not to play too safe. If you always order the same items from our range, why not try something new? That might be a different eye shadow, a bolder blusher or a more vibrant lipstick. Or it could be that you experiment with one of our brilliant primers or see how great you look with the addition of our Instant Bright Highlighter. Can I also encourage you to watch one of our new weekly videos (and do please like, share or comment on it). Alternatively, you could join one of our live events - especially if you have never done so before! The point of this is simple: to shake you out of any rut you may have settled into and challenge you to see your face in a whole new way.
Change Your Surroundings
I was chatting with a friend recently who was stuck because she needed to get rid of a large, heavy piece of furniture before she could reorganise her living room, but couldn’t think of a way to do so. Having disposed of several pieces of furniture recently, I suggested contacting the British Heart Foundation who will send men in large vans to collect such items for free (she thought this was a brilliant idea). Paint is relatively cheap and rearranging pictures costs nothing, but both can create a whole new look to a room, as can rearranging the furniture. If this appeals then think about the first step you need to take - maybe it’s looking online at paint colours. I can recommend the Little Greene and Farrow & Ball websites for inspiration.
Go Somewhere New
This could be a new hairdresser, a new shop, cafe or restaurant. It could be a nearby town you’ve never actually been to or it could be even farther afield - maybe a whole new country you always wanted to visit. The point, again, is to switch it up, step outside your comfort zone and be stimulated by the novelty of a completely different place. You never know, you might come out of a new hairdresser with a whole new look which screams ‘fabulous’.
Change Your Mind
Probably the hardest of all things to change! Like many older people, I have very strong opinions and views about lots of things. In recent years with everything that has been going on, I have been in the habit of saying ‘Don’t get me started’ as an acknowledgement of my tendency to rant about the latest shenanigans going on both here and abroad.
My solution is to do my utmost to understand alternative perspectives, to accept that I can be wrong, to learn as much as I can about various situations and to read widely on subjects that interest me. I read fiction and non-fiction, I like watching foreign language films, and I listen to maybe 15 or so podcasts every week so that my mind can be stimulated by the thoughts and views of well-informed, intelligent people. Not sure what else I can do, but I do try very hard to resist the temptation to view everything solely through the lens of the past. Not everything was better back then!
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Do you recognise the tendency in yourself or others to be closed to new ideas? What do you do to stay connected to the world we live in and open to new experiences and ways of doing things?
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Get Ready With Angélique for a Shopping Trip
Get Ready With Angélique for a Shopping Trip
Angélique walks you through her morning skincare routine, outfit and final touches of her makeup look, telling you all about the look she's gone for and how to recreate it......
Friday 28th April
Film Club: Living with Bill Nighy
Available on Amazon Prime + Curzon Home Cinema
Watch the film beforehand and join us for a group discussion!
Day: Friday 28th April 2023
Meeting ID (if needed): 861 0928 8705
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB