Every baby looks like a baby. When you look at a baby, you can guess its age to within a few months. No 15-year-old looks like a 5-year-old, either.
Gradually the differences between individuals of the same age stretch out. The difference between two 7-month-old babies is miniscule, and the difference between two septuagenarians is vast. Many, many of us give a first impression of being at least 10 years younger than our chronological age. How do we do it?
Much of this apparent youthfulness is due to sheer luck (but not as much as we used to believe). Good genes are sheer luck. A childhood with good genes, good location, good timing, good nutrition — all luck. Much youthfulness is due to good habits, starting with exercise. And of course people often say it’s all in the mind. “Young at heart” is what matters — that’s true, but where does this attitude come from?
Good luck and good habits can be overturned in an hour, for example by an accident or disease. And just quietly, on some days we look 100.
Younger on the outside, happier on the inside
You can’t rewrite your life from scratch, and you can’t just change your attitude by an act of will. But luckily (!), there’s a great deal of simple stuff we can actually start doing right now, today, that will make us look younger right away, today.
But only if we want to. Up to us, right? I’m thinking of the times when you feel your outside appearance doesn’t match the way you feel inside, and you want to change that.
Often if you change something on the outside, the inside changes too. Isn’t that a clever trick?
If you would like to look younger, more like the way you feel inside, try simply changing one little thing: this you can do. We older people do get fixed in our ways. You might be very surprised at the chain of happy events that result from one small change to your behaviour. Here are some tips. Pick one!
8 tips for men and women
1. Smile. Smile often. Think about something that makes you smile. Or smile for no reason. Smile at strangers. A smiling face is a younger face. A smiling face is a gift to the smilee and it feels more alive to the smiler.
2. Stand up as straight as you can. Long neck, shoulders relaxed and down. This gives you a younger shape, a more positive stature… and attitude.
3. When you walk, look around you. Don’t gaze at the footpath the whole time. Bounce along, swing along. This creates a youthful feeling inside you, and a youthful impression to observers.
4. If your neck is stuck, get it unstuck. You want a head that balances on the spine, not one that’s welded to your spine. Young people move their heads. What to do? Stand up to use your computer — put it on the kitchen bench, sideboard, mantelpiece, or just a box on your desk. (If you sit down to type, your head pokes forward, end of story. A new chair will not fix this.) And restart that movement thing you used to love — yoga, tai chi, physiotherapy, Feldenkrais, dancing, gardening, whatever suits you and your body.
5. Pay attention to your hair. When it gets thin or doggy, hair is a dead giveaway for age. Colour’s not necessarily an issue, but style needs attention: the old style probably won’t work any more. Men: lose that combover now, this minute, no excuses — get thee to the barber! You know who you are. A shaved head looks young and is appropriate at any age.
6. Find colours that suit you now: they do exist, and they are different from what suited you in your youth. In my case, beige makes me invisible, and young people are never invisible. And black near my face makes me look like a corpse. I find the Gothic look a bit scary on older people — but maybe you like that, in which case go for it.
7. Wear some clothes that are fun or fashionable. Enjoy them. Wake up to what younger people are wearing nowadays. Believe it, some of those things may suit you.
8. Or do none of the above. Please yourself.
4 tips for women only
1. Wear a bit of makeup. You are beautiful, but some people can’t see it because your skin has gone all wishy washy. Find a lipstick you can live with: that looks better, ay? Maybe reinstate a pair of eyebrows, and play around with blusher.
2. Hitch up your tits, whether they’re beanbags or hackysacks. Wear a decent, properly fitted bra. This gives you breasts and a waist, like young women tend to have. If that’s just an illusion, so what? Celebrate the illusion.
3. Use a magnifying mirror to spot and snip those telltale hairs growing into a horse’s tail under your chin. You’ll hate what you see, but you’ll love the peace of mind, which we imagine is a feature of mindless youth.
4. Or do none of the above. Feeling fine? Then I’ll shut up. It’s just that people ask me sometimes, why do you look so young? And I started thinking about it, you see.
We know we’re lucky, we members of this new tribe of the young-old. So let’s bounce around the world with joy. As I said, our luck can change in a flash. How wicked to moan and groan about life when we are so lucky.
P.S. I wrote a similar article in another blog which is being stripped of its assets.