I have a confession to make. I love Harry Potter. I’ve read all of the books and watched all the movies. However, while sitting through the Deathly Hallows Part II, I noticed something disturbing regarding the aging process.
It wasn’t the final scene where the Gryffindor trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione flash forward 19 years and assume the lives of middle-aged adults sending their own children to Hogwarts (although Harry, Ron and Draco were very convincing with pot bellies and facial hair.) It was Harry’s departed parents, James and Lily that took me aback.
In the earlier films Harry’s mom and dad appeared as youthful as they did when he was a baby. But in the last of JK Rowling’s stories brought to life on film, Mr. and Mrs. Potter had clearly tip toed into middle age. I mentioned this to my daughter, Alicia. “Aging in the afterlife. Bummer,” she quipped.
I guess no one is eternally young. Not even departed wizards. Our diminishing youth is still somewhat of a shock to my cohorts of Baby Boomers. We were the Pepsi Generation. Weren’t we immune to this aging process? Sadly not.
Youth and happiness seem intertwined. At least that is what a lot of folks think. While I miss my girlish figure and energy, having a more spiritual outlook (which has oddly expanded at about the same rate as my waistline) is worth the tradeoff.
Aging and happiness are common topics in radio shows I’ve done about our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. Here is a typical question and my response.
Q: Do you think people are more prone to negativity as they age?
I think that really depends on the person. If you let transient qualities such as a youthful face and shapely figure define you, then it makes sense that you are going to become depressed as your body ages and changes. And depression and negativity are best buddies. I’m not saying it’s easy to face the aging process. I’m 57 years old and I’ve never heard anyone cheer when they see a new wrinkle on their face or spot a grey hair. I know I don’t. However, I have discovered that if you focus on other attributes, such as pursuing long-forgotten dreams, developing your compassion and creating a more optimistic outlook, than you don’t have to fall into the negativity trap and life will be a lot happier. I don’t look nearly as good as I did when I was 20, but I can honestly say I am a lot happier with who I am.
Everyone wants to be happy, at least in theory. Unfortunately, we often actively sabotage our efforts. That is why negativity, particularly lamenting our lost youth, is not only an exercise in futility, it is downright harmful. None of us will live forever, but we all have the opportunity to infuse more happiness in our daily lives. The good news is we can start right now.
A living example of happiness in spite of aging was recently demonstrated by my friends and team mates from my senior softball team, The Stingers. We recently got together for dinner and a few laughs. These women range from their 50s to 80s. Their youthful spirit exceeds that of many folks that I have met that are decades younger. Each one of my team mates is positive, enjoys life and values friendship (and softball of course!)
When we don our uniforms, slip on our gloves and swing a bat, it’s as if we have our own magic wand granting us happiness in life. And it doesn’t have to be softball. It can be doing anything you love. The key is to find that magical moment and multiple it every day.
I’m not a wizard (although there is a picture of a magic wand on the cover of our book.) But I know we all possess the ability to become happy. The key is put a stop on the negative thoughts, speech and actions that rob us of happiness. Once we keep that internal grouch at bay, we are free to allow delightful moments of joy to multiple and spread like magic.