Last weekend I decided to treat myself to a bit of relaxation by reading one of my magazines. As usual, I flipped through the slick front pages of glamorous women wearing designer clothes, ads promising hot sex and love by simply using certain cosmetics, and a list of the “Best of the Best” showcasing uber-expensive items the magazine believes we “must have.” Digging deeper to find something beyond the frivolous, I spotted, “Slow Anti-Aging ~ The New Secret To Looking Your Best.” Unfortunately, instead of offering advice on how to live well and happy no matter what your age, the entire article focused on expensive treatments that slow the effects of getting older while fooling others into thinking you come by it naturally. What? Is that even possible?
Before I go too far, I should confirm what you’ve already guessed—I am a low-maintenance kind of woman. I wear minimal makeup, grudgingly buy a few creams for my skin, wear only one or two pieces of jewelry and avoid nearly everything with a designer label. Instead, given the choice I spend my excess money on travel, learning experiences, fun and a few causes I support. Fortunately, my husband Thom not only likes me this way, but he’s also the same. Rightsizing comes naturally to us because we both prefer quality experiences over stuff.
With that kind of a personality, it’s no wonder that when I came to the end of the magazine article about slow aging, I almost choked. Apparently such treatments range in cost every year from around $4,500 for the bare minimum, to up to over $20,000 for the all-inclusive treatment. They recommend you start in your mid-30’s for maximum effect, and then every single year for the rest of your life! That could add up to the potential amount of $500,000 over the next 40 years. And guess what? You’re still going to die! So even if you achieve the goal of such a practice, and fool your “friends and colleagues” into not noticing the subtle differences provided by your youth treatments, it completely ignores the far more relevant question of whether or not that makes you happy.
Another article that I read over a year ago caused the same intake of breath as this one. That previous article cited a study done by the National Center For Health Statistics (NCHS) claiming that one out of every four women in mid-age takes antidepressant medication. In fact, women take twice as many antidepressants as men. And that slow aging article might be a big part of the cause. After all, if women convince themselves that spending enormous amounts of money to try to look younger, all the while tricking others into not knowing they had work done, the stress of that pressure could be overwhelming.
Does anyone remember a skit on Saturday Night Live back in the 1980’s done by Billy Crystal called, “Fernando’s Hideaway”? Regardless of who Fernando was interviewing in the skit, he would always say, “You look marvelous!” And that was usually followed by, “As we all know, it is better to look marvelous than feel marvelous.” Everyone I knew used to mimic that skit because what made it so hilarious, besides Billy Crystal’s acting, was how it pointed out the obvious mistake of grasping for superficial appearances, rather than authenticity. What I think we need to ask ourselves is, “How often do I make choices to look good, and completely ignore the far more important practices that allow me to feel good from the inside out?”
For several years now I have listened to talks and read the work of Esther Hicks and Abraham. Regardless of what you think of Law Of Attraction (LOA) or the origin of the material, I find it helpful that a focus of the work urges us all to make choices that feel good deep inside. Regrettably, according to Abraham, most of us are completely out of touch with our real feelings, and we’ve become trained to do whatever other people, our culture or background requires.
In fact, LOA teaches us that anyone or any institution that tries to get us to forgo our happiness is just attempting to manipulate and control us into sacrificing our feelings for their purposes. Is it possible that when we continue to pretend that our lives are perfectly fine when they are not, or force ourselves to maintain an image of looking good at any cost, those actions end up making us miserably unhappy? With that kind of unconscious focus, it is no wonder so many women are on medication.
Of course, some women out there might be telling themselves, “I couldn’t possibly feel good if I don’t look good.” Really? As Abraham says in LOA, “Your life is supposed to feel good to you.” Abraham continues with, “Someone who takes the time to understand their relationship with Source, who actively seeks alignment with their broader perspective, who deliberately finds alignment with who-they-really-are, is more charismatic, more attractive, more effective, and more powerful than a group of millions who have not achieved this alignment.”
Abraham is convinced that we can control the way we feel by controlling our thoughts. Instead of allowing outside circumstances to trigger responses in us and make us happy or not, we can put our time, attention and resources on what we can effect inside. As Abraham explains, “No one else knows your reason for being. You do. Your bliss guides you to it. When you follow your bliss, when you follow your path to joy, your conversation is of joy, your feelings are of joy—you’re on the right path.”
I know that when I’m in alignment with what I believe to be my passion and purpose here on the planet, I am happy. I also know that when I’m learning something new or passionately talking with friends about a new curiosity, I’m joyful. I realize that sometimes life hands us difficult circumstances, and painful things happen to us all. But I’m convinced that the path to wellbeing is not trying to force my face or my body into denying my age. I also can’t imagine that my journey to happiness is indicative of whether or not I fool other people into believing I’m young, that I’ve got it all together, or that I’m a success according to other people’s definitions. Instead, surely the SMART path is to take the time to find what bring each of us true joy and contentment. Once there, we will never again sacrifice feeling good for merely looking good—no matter what!