Nicer With Age

From time to time I read articles describing the changes of growing older. There are physical changes, naturally, and phsychological changes too.

Preventing these changes occupies much of our collective time, a fool’s errand in my opinion. My once blonde and then brown hair is now optimistically ‘salt and pepper’. I note a face that seems to have slipped south from its chipper heyday, and so on until I die. The key word is ‘inevitable’, which doesn’t imply not maximizing what you have, merely that change will occur.

That’s the physical, with which we’re all familiar.

The phsyco side is of more interest to me. I saved this piece from the Wall Street Journal concluding that we generally grow nicer with age. Now, I live in Florida, the grouchy gulag of America’s aging army, and I see absolutely no evidence of this increasing sweetness. My experience is of psychotic driving, ignorant line-jumping and tipping policy from the thirties. That is the 1930s.

You would think that a successful tour through a life of seventy or eighty years would automatically give some calm perspective on being human. A philosphical outlook makes for a nicely settled and stable member of a society. No doubt this is true in many individual cases, but I am skeptical that mere aging delivers these qualities to us without some effort on our behalf.

Nope, it’s the same whether you are eighteen or eighty. If you have personality traits or characteristics that cause you problems with others, you have to choose to change. Waiting for a better you to emerge with the advent of  your McDonald’s Senior Coffee entitlement will get you cheap coffee, but no new friends.

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