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Monday, July 22, 2024

Life Gets Better: The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older

BY WENDY LUSTBADER

REVIEWED BY TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

The first one was easy to deal with.

You plucked it, threw it away, then made a mental note: buy hair dye. However, that one gray strand led to another, followed by wrinkles and an increasing number of failing body parts. You wonder, what’s next? You wonder, when did I get old?

But when asked if one would want to be 18 again, the answer from the majority was an astounding “no.”

Wendy Lustbader uncovers plenty of good aspects about growing older in her new book “Life Gets Better.” Most of the elders she knew – including her middle-aged self – seemed happier, less stressed, and more at ease than her younger compatriots. And yet, youth is venerated in our society and most people dread the signs of aging. With age, Lustbader said, comes self-knowledge — we know who we are, and we’re satisfied with it. We’ve been tested and have survived “more solid than before.” We can accept praise more readily because we know we’ve earned it. We’re grateful for what we have, because we recognize that there are others with less. We know how to use our time, because it goes quickly. Decisions are wiser, resilience is greater, and so is our ability to relax. We’ve gained the wisdom that not everything is worth fighting over and love becomes sweeter due to “mutual sensitivity.” Spending a lifetime with someone no longer seems like enough.

Lustbader’s joyous words make every gray hair seem like a gold star and every wrinkle like a reward as she steers readers away from stereotypes and toward a new understanding. Even the so-called “negative” aspects of aging (senior moments, loss, and incapacitation) are wondrous in Lustbader’s eyes, which will give readers of all ages more reason to embrace elderhood.

If you’re missing your youth, or if you’re staring down age with trepidation, read this book and relax. Like life, this book is well-seasoned.

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