Growing older is one of the most pervasive preoccupations of humankind. The passing of time is, after all, an inescapable part of the human condition. And aging, like love, is one of the most common themes in literature, be it the calm of poet Robert Brownings’ “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,” or poet Dylan Thomas’ raging against the dying of the light.
Being the paradoxical creatures we are, people generally want to live a long life, but at the same time we lament getting older. We long for our days of youth and say “Youth is wasted on the young,” as the old adage goes. But while we can’t fight the inevitable aging of our bodies, we can shift our perspectives on what it means to grow older.
To some extent, aging is a state of mind. Instead of mourning the loss of youth, we can celebrate every extra year and be grateful for getting older. Many great minds and famous figures have said as much, and the following quotes might just change the way you think about getting older.
Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure.
– Philosopher and writer George Santayana
The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball — the further I am rolled the more I gain.
– Susan B. Anthony
A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.
– Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
– Henry Ford
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
– Minister and columnist Frank Crane
I believe the second half of one’s life is meant to be better than the first half. The first half is finding out how you do it. And the second half is enjoying it.
– Activist and writer Frances Lear
Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquillity of the evening. Old age has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
– English writer W. Somerset Maugham
Odder still how possessed I am with the feeling that now, aged 50, I’m just poised to shoot forth quite free straight and undeflected my bolts whatever they are… These are the soul’s changes. I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.
– Virginia Woolf
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
– Author Madeleine L’Engle
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.
– Sophia Loren
If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist. I think aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.
– David Bowie
Since our society equates happiness with youth, we often assume that sorrow, quiet desperation, and hopelessness go hand in hand with getting older. They don’t. Emotional pain or numbness are symptoms of living the wrong life, not a long life.
– Author and speaker Martha Beck
When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.
– Warren Buffett
Today, I am 64 years old. I still look good. I appreciate and enjoy my age… A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it. You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you’re riding on another level. It’s completely liberating.
– Poet and activist Nikki Giovanni