Positivity and Aging

In yet another adventure to understand life, I encountered some intriguing information this past week encompassing my own birthday, which is always a great occasion to reflect on aging.

First is the idea that as we age, we intentionally select positive input rather than negative.  Makes sense to me that after we endure many days through the buffeting forces of life, we increasingly lean toward positive input since we are wise to the self-inflicted suffering of focus on the negative.

The Positivity Effect

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Next is the optimism bias.  The short TED talk linked below explains it beautifully.  The optimism bias expresses how 80% of us are delusional.  It is why anyone gets married, has a child, continues to smoke or ride a motorcycle or drive a car.  We never believe the risks will happen to us, only the other guy.  This delusion is also probably responsible for progress in society as a whole because in the face of risk and stacked odds, some of us succeed to create the new.

The Optimism Bias

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In light of this information, here is my epiphany:

I have been struggling to understand why I no longer have dreams I used to have.  Why I used to dream of travel and exploration and dream relationships but now lean toward contentment in maintaining a tiny space in solitude.  Something shifted to view inner vastness and peace as the greatest journey to make in this life.

My life can be roughly divided into 3 trends so far.  In my youth, I was pessimist.  I never thought I would live long and was an emotional mess in my teens (who isn’t) despite high functioning.  In my 20s and 30s an optimist.  And finally in my 40s (and beyond?) a realist.   By the time most of us reach our 40s we have experienced the realities of marriage/divorce, connection/heartbreak, child rearing, and major awakenings that things did not go as planned or dreamed.

As pointed out so well in this blog, Frugal Frustrations, it even takes money to live beautifully simply.  As my dreams shift toward realism I admit it is unlikely I will meet a person like this builder who could help me build a 300 sq foot Dream Cabin in the woods and more importantly ever amass enough funds to build it after single parenting and paycheck-to-paycheck living.  (Prefer to avoid breaking my back to build like this woman did Foreclosed, Divorced, Unemployed Architect Builds Home). But I am probably among the 80% who are delusional enough to believe the dream is at least possible.

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About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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