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Psychologist, Dr. Inger Jensen Creates the Ultimate Guide to Aging with upcoming New Book, How to Age Disgracefully

James Pratt

Aging isn’t easy. From the changes in your mind and body to the societal expectations, each flip of the calendar can be rough. Dr. Inger Jensen hopes to change the way people view aging by encouraging them to throw out the old idea that aging means slowing down. Rather it should mean trying new things, new activities, new hobbies. Her new book, How to Age Disgracefully, offers plenty of reasons why ignoring your age is the healthiest way to age. Take a look at Inger’s recommendations about how to live your best life free from the expectations of getting older.

You are working on a book called How to Age Disgracefully. How did it come about?

I wanted to communicate some ideas I have about not following the normal path to aging but how it is important to break some of the “rules” for behavior as we age. When I thought of the concept of “growing old gracefully” I thought of a former spiritual teacher who thought that it was the dumbest idea. He said he never intended to grow old and certainly not gracefully! Following that concept I thought perhaps what we need to do is be willing to grow old “disgracefully”. The idea was to not get tied to old, worn rules of how to be as you age, to be free to reinvent yourself to try new experiences, activities that were not so restricted and predictable.

Why did you decide to write the book?

I wanted to share the concepts and ideas I developed over the last 35 years. Beliefs regarding living a productive, exciting life at any age. Present the obstacles to achieving what we want. I thought it became even more relevant as we get older. We get caught up in belief systems regarding what we can accomplish or activities it is OK for us to do.

You say we should disbelieve in numbers, what exactly do you mean by that?

In the chapter dealing with this concept, I talk about how important it is to free yourself from beliefs that limit you. So many social rules about what activities and behaviors are “appropriate” for persons over 60 etc. The age number need not limit your ideas or vision of what is possible. We are only as young as we believe.

Who did you primarily write the book for?

I wrote the book for myself and for the many clients I had worked with, who I encouraged to go for their dreams.  I had also spoken a lot about it to the viewers of my weekly TV show on public access. I wanted to encourage men and women to form positive beliefs about what they could experience and achieve at any age.

What would you like readers to take away from this book?

That aging does not have to mean giving up on adventure. In America men and women participate in a mass hypnotic thought that in so many ways undermines their freedom and happiness: the notion that being a certain age determines how interesting, innovate, productive and desirable we are. We have adopted certain beliefs about how people should look or behave at certain ages, and how interesting or vital they can be.  Be irreverent, dare to look foolish, find and honor the vamp in you are some of the concepts I would like the reader to consider.

There are also some key psychological concepts that need to be understood such as the importance of eliminating bitterness, resentment and regret. I call these the three killers of joy. I also stress the importance of positive imagery and reducing negative imagery (worry).

You worked for many years as a psychotherapist, how do you think that prepared you to work on the project?

The journey I have been on to discover what really makes people feel happy and fulfilled has taught me many lessons. A wise teacher told me that I could never bring a client farther that I had gone myself. So what I share are the discoveries I have made. When I first started writing this book in 1994 I was in my late fifties.  Now more than 20 years later I can report how many of the concepts I wrote about then have influenced my life and that of my clients. So while many of the concepts I wrote about still hold true I have now the experience of having lived them and discovered new methods that are useful.

How do you think our attitudes on aging have changed in the past few decades?

To some extent, there has been some change in how we view different ages. While 20 years ago 65 was considered old, people look and dress younger today. Perhaps the old 80 is the new 60! There is now some understanding that a woman over 40 can be attractive.  But ageism is still strong when it comes to senior women. I think the more progressive women have a bigger vision for themselves, but for traditional women often have strong belief systems dictating what is proper for them to do. It is now other peoples turn to shine and they should be passive and supportive. The “good” grandmother, who lives for helping out, patiently waiting to be called upon when needed. Her own needs being not so important.

Some say that ageism is the most insidious “ism” because we have been so programmed by society to accept it. How do you feel people can best combat social taboos and stereotypes?

The “me too” movement has shown the power in numbers. Surround yourself with people who are free spirits. Read about amazing people who are having incredible adventures at an advanced age. Learn to be your own advocate and cheering section. Know you are never too old to reinvent yourself. New advances in Neurosciences are showing us that taking on new learning challenges and behaviors can reverse aging in the brain.

How do you think our concepts about aging will change in the next few years?

As our beliefs change and we discover the ability to excel in activities at later and later ages we will change our expectations of what we are capable of at any age.  The concept and science of Neuroplasticity, how we can change our brain through various thoughts and activities is one very exciting field of study that is sure to influence how we age. If we can have Supreme Court justices that are brilliant thinkers at advanced ages, why can the senior woman not excel in any field?

What advice would you give to those out there who want to know how they can age disgracefully?

Get to know yourself. What do you really want to do?  Make a bucket list of thing you would like to do if you really dared. Try not to live for others approval but honor the person you would like to be. Read about adventurous people and get inspired. Develop some positive beliefs about yourself and your talents. Read my book when it is published.

Dr. Inger Jensen has been researching How To Age Disgracefully for over 20 years. The keys to unlock the power of reinventing yourself lies in this book.  Inger inspires readers to get out there and start living their lives not based on a number, but based on the desire of adventure. For more information and to keep up with Inger’s new projects visit www.dringerjensen.com

Carly Zinderman

Carly Zinderman is a Senior Staff Writer for JustLuxe, based just outside of Los Angeles, CA. Since graduating from Occidental College with a degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies, she has written on a variety of topics for books, magazines and online publications, but loves fashion and style best. In her spare time, when she?s not writing, Carly enjoys watching old movies, reading an...(Read More)

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