Old Age Is Not for the Young — 7 Takeaways No. 80

(Image: canva.com)

(If you’re having difficulty viewing this in email, visit 7takeaways.com/latest in your browser. If a link to a source below leads to you a paywall or is otherwise inaccessible, please read my note on the topic: Paywalls.)

1. “Show your feelings”

Showing you’re stressed may make you more likeable – new research – Jamie Whitehouse – (The Conversation)

In some ways, I blame our culture of shame. It’s “shameful” to show certain types of feelings, particularly any associated with any kind of weakness.

And yet, as this article lays out, humans are particularly good at detecting feelings like stress in others, even when they’re not explicitly shared. Counterintuitively, it might be a good thing — for the stressed.

Communicating honestly and naturally through your behaviour may in fact leave a positive impression on others.

Do this: Leave a positive impression.

2. “Preserving what we already have.”

The Survival Instinct of Money – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)

Money is such an odd topic of conversation. It’s often considered a very private, secret thing. Sometimes the mere mention of it will cause stress and anxiety. I’ve even had people freeze up when I offered to pay for lunch.

In this essay, Yeo approaches two aspects of money-related stress:

  1. Our attachment to preservation, and
  2. Our tendency to use growth as a proxy for survival.

(He’s not saying these are the only aspects, just the two he chose to discuss.)

To me, the first is worth understanding more deeply than I think we do. It’s well known that fear of loss is a greater motivator than fear of gain, but I don’t think we realize just how deep or meaningful that is when it comes to money. Interestingly, the actual numbers involved may not matter — we all seem to self-adjust for our own situation.

Do this: Be aware of your own relationship to money, and to the extent that you can, ensure it’s a healthy one.

3. “We want world-wide rights but we don’t want world-wide responsibilities”

The Need for World Government – Kevin Kelly – (Blog, via the SwissMiss newsletter)

I agree. In fact, this is something I’ve had bumping around the back of my brain for quite literally decades. Like Kelly, I know it’s a pipe-dream in the short term, but in the long term I see no alternative.

Because, Star Trek. And BYW(*), when the day comes that we meet another alien species in space, I’d be willing to bet their planet has a planetary government.

It’s a controversial topic, but seeing it articulated by someone I respect got my attention.

Do this: Note your own gut reaction to the idea. I guarantee you’ll have one.

4. “The dangers of online advertisements”

Older internet users confuse adverts with real search engine results, says watchdog – (NL Times)

This straddles a couple of my worlds and interests: technology, The Netherlands, and aging/agism.

I’ve long held that many people confuse advertisements with search results. If you know what to look for, it’s clear, but unless you’ve taken the time to learn about it, it’s easy to miss. The study focussed on the over-65 crowd, but the fact is it’s true at any age. The misunderstanding can result in mild annoyance, or it can lead to malware or outright theft.

Do this: Learn the difference, of course, but then share your knowledge with those you can.

5. “Trauma leaves a trace in offspring”

How Parents’ Trauma Leaves Biological Traces in Children – Rachel Yehuda – (Scientific American)

This is a fairly dense article tracing the studies performed by the author relating to trauma, PTSD, and the effects of those on the children of the affected, using cohorts of both Holocaust survivors, and those affected by the events of 9/11.

We used to think genetic evolution simply combined parental DNA, which was a combination of parental DNA of prior generations, with the occasional random change thrown in. The life experience of the parents had little to do with the combination beyond their survival to reproduce and pass along their genes. If there was something more immediate passed on, it was due to how the parents interacted with the children, and not genetic.

Turns out that might not be complete. Experience can apparently alter some of what gets passed along biologically — even before conception. Fascinating.

Do this: Consider what your parents may have passed along to you — behaviourally, and genetically.

6. “A million barrels of crude on board”

Can the International Community Avert Disaster in the Red Sea? -Ed Caesar – (The New Yorker)

Ostensibly, this article is about an oil tanker moored off the coast of Yemen that is deteriorating and in danger of spilling a million barrels of crude into the Red Sea. The outlook is grim, and local politics have played havoc with even allowing attempts to repair the vessel.

That’s not what got my attention. This is:

In 2014, the Houthis launched a successful coup in Yemen, which precipitated a Saudi-led intervention; according to the U.N., the ensuing seven-year war has killed a quarter of a million people.

A quarter of a million people. And I’m hearing about it as a throwaway line in a story about an oil tanker.

I get that the news at home is overwhelming enough. But ignoring the rest of the world doesn’t seem right either. I’m not sure where or how to strike the balance.

Do this: Cast a wider net (if you’re up to it).

7. “Old Age Is Not for the Young.”

No Time to Spare – Ursula K. Le Guin – (ebook)

This ebook contains a selection of the late author’s blog posts in which she talks about various topics. A prolific writer, she only began blogging at 80, and continued until the year before her death at age 88.

The first few entries relate to a topic I’ve been interested in for some time: aging, from the perspective of the aged. For example, she takes issue with the adage “you’re as young as you feel”. Her perspective is to embrace aging and its inevitable changes without denying its reality.

Old age generally involves pain and danger and inevitably ends in death. The acceptance of that takes courage. Courage deserves respect.

I’m rather enjoying not just her thought process, but her style as well.

Do this: Be courageous.

What I’m Reading

In progress:


Support 7Takeaways

As Austin Kleon says about his own newsletter: it’s free, but not cheap. Your support helps keep 7Takeaways viable. I appreciate your consideration VERY much.

Pick your own level of support!

(*) I’m not sure what BYW means either. Many possibilities. My assumption is a typo for BTW, or By The Way.

Leave a Comment