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Old things: A paperweight that belonged to my husband’s aunt and uncle, circa 1965

I opened my e-mail the other day and found an ad for a collection of women’s boots made to look vintage. They weren’t just styled with a vintage vibe; they were made to look old and beat up. I don’t know about you, but my Mom did without a lot of things to keep her kids from looking like poor waifs. And now we’re out there, paying good money for new things that look distressed. Go figure.

Here’s what I want to know: if the distressed look is so fashionable, why haven’t the gears shifted to the point that young people would rather look old? Or better yet, can’t we all just enjoy the age that we actually are—not one that’s ahead or behind us? That’s the wisdom of Grace Coddington, the creative director at Vogue. Her new memoir Grace: A Memoir is on my reading list. At 70, this former model feels no need for plastic surgery, no matter how commonplace it’s become—even among women decades younger.

Don’t you love it? It’s like permission to age. After seeing Judi Dench in Skyfall, my imagination ran wild thinking of all the money I could save if I gave up my anti-aging products. Isn’t it exciting to think that at this very moment, you might be morphing into something more interesting than before?

Occasionally, I get a sidelong glance that suggests someone might be equating my age with stupidity. Isn’t it odd? The same thing used to happen when I was just a lass. See. You can’t let that stuff bother you. If someone judges you based on your age, it isn’t a reflection on you!

Here are six ways to feel good about your self at every age.

  1. Always be on a grand mission toward something that excites you. Preoccupation with a passion keeps you facing forward rather than looking back at some earlier (and probably lesser) self.
  2. Surround yourself with people who challenge and stimulate your mind. Sometimes we can’t avoid people who deplete us, but we can certainly limit the amount of time we spend with them.
  3. Never envy. How can you own and run your life if you’re pining for someone else’s?
  4. Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable. When we love with our whole hearts or risk failures to get what we want, we’re at our very best, according to author Brené Brown, who has researched shame and vulnerability extensively. Like the song says: “Dance like nobody’s watching.” (Check out Brown’s interview with On Being host Krista Tippett. There’s a link to her recent TED talk there, too. It’s one of the most provocative interviews I’ve heard in a long time.)
  5. Buy experiences—not things. Things do not make people happy, according to Randy Cohen, author of Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything. Experiences with other people do. (Something to keep in mind as we do our Christmas shopping.) Have a life that’s so interesting that your memories will be good company to you at every age.
  6. Don’t attach yourself to age-related maxims or limiters. “I haven’t had enough experience to_________. I’m too old to put up with _________. It’s too late for me to_________. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” These ideas are as good as rubbish to the mind and body. How can you evolve into something more beautiful if your mind is a garbage dump?

What’s your favorite feel good philosophy? What are you doing to make sure you die young? Share your wisdom on aging gracefully with a comment and earn a chance to win a copy of Grace: A Memoir

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.