Vignettes on Aging – Expectations

There is an expectation that if you ate right and treated your body as a temple with exercise and good health practices, during your later years you’d be rewarded by mobility and strong cognitive qualities for a very long time. As it turns out, this is not always the case. Genetics and luck also play a role in how well we age.

The expectation of a longer life based on a scant number of variables is misleading. These predictions don’t take into account where we lived, what our attitudes have been, and whether we smoked, had children, did recreational drugs, were angry or mad a lot of the time, and a ton of other factors.

So much for expectations.

Negative perceptions of aging can be self-fulfilling prophecies, predicting worse cognitive and physical outcomes. Studies have tried to identify if a ‘better’ attitude, without incorrect expectations about getting older does, in fact, aid and improve the process. The results from questionnaires about what it’s like to get older showed that those with fewer hardline expectations one way or the other can have a more satisfying experience of the whole process. Nothing concrete, but some indication of the power of a good attitude with fewer formatted expectations. Other studies about seniors’ attitudes and expectations of getting older showed that those who felt pessimistic and had less self-efficacy spoke more negatively than those with fewer expectations and a more relaxed attitude about aging.

The dangers of relying on our expectations can be seen in every area of our lives, not just on how we’ll age in the coming years. 

Timber Hawkeye from the Buddhist Boot Camp says, “Expectations are planned disappointments.” Would you agree?

What are your expectations about how you will age going forward? Is your attitude in line with your expectations? You might not be correct. It’s probably a good idea to think realistically every time you let your expectations run your thoughts and actions.