You look in the mirror, expecting to see that same not-perfect-but-familiar face - and freak! That’s not you, that couldn’t be you! That face staring back at you has a wrinkle, right there, at the corner of your eye. You’ve never had a wrinkle. You can’t have a wrinkle, already! Here you are, all of 32, and already you have crow’s feet. That’s it, life is over.

Or you’re 42, past the initial shock of crow’s feet, wondering whatever happened to your usual good eyesight. Now you have to stretch your arm all the way out to see print you used to be able to read in the dark at a glance. Depression sets in with that horrible realization. You’re aging.

Or you’re 62, long accustomed to wrinkles, glasses firmly tucked on your nose, staring at the skin on your belly. What is the good of being thin, if your skin is going to be all funky? You work out, your muscle tone is good – why can’t your skin get the drift and shape up?!

It doesn’t seem to matter what your real age is, as soon as those physical signs of “no longer 20” pop up, your worry meter starts ticking, and the thought of “what next?” bedevils you. And why wouldn’t it? We are surrounded by a culture which venerates youth, as if it were all that matters. So all the billboards sport sweet young things or fit young men, the media caters most to youth, and dire pronouncements of all the terrible things that are bound to accompany aging flood our TV commercials and other venues.

The upshot is, instead of enjoying ALL of your life with zest, enthusiasm and passion, too many of us zip through the first 30 or so, and then expect to plod through the next 50 or 60 with ever decreasing joy. Oh, great . . .

Revolt! Rebel! Quit defining the aging process as decrepitude and decline. After all, you start aging the moment you take your first breath fresh from your mother’s womb, and that didn’t stop you from crawling all over the place, climbing trees and enjoying life. When you look at it that way, you can start to realize that aging is simply what happens from birth on. When you see aging not as a slow progression towards death (which by the way, completely ignores that death comes at all ages), and instead see it as the living you do in your 30’s, 40’s, 70’s, and on, suddenly aging takes on a different value. Your emphasis shifts from “declining-towards-death,” an experience difficult to appreciate at best, to “living life,” an adventure well worth appreciating.

With that, you can start to pay attention to the benefits of living your life, whatever your age, as opposed to obsessing over the differences between you then and you now. Which, by the way, is one of the secrets of happy centenarians. They tend to revel in the daily joys of life, and seek to enjoy life as much as humanly possible, rather than dwell on “what I can’t do now” or how they’ve changed. Believe me, by 100, there are so many wrinkles, your wrinkles have wrinkles – so if that’s all you’re looking at, you’re in big trouble.

Start changing how you view your passage through this glorious journey called “life” so that you can have a wonderful time, as many of your days as possible. Let your age, and whatever comes along with it, be the least of your concerns. Let enjoying your life, be the biggest.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., known as "Dr. Noelle" to her clients, is a respected psychologist, consultant and author. Her most recent books is "The Power of Appreciation: The Key to a Vibrant Life" (with co-author, Jeannine LeMare Calaba, Psy.D.; Beyond Words, 2003). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives with her "compassionate psychotherapy." Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at