How to adopt a positive ageing mindset

It’s not just the Oscars showing age is just a number, with 96-year-old world record-holder Heather Lee proof it pays to shift our perspective on getting old.

If there’s anyone who epitomises reaching their prime at any age it is champion racewalker 96-year-old Heather Lee.

The 13-time world record-breaker from Sydney started her competitive sporting career in her 80s, motivated by her late husband who said to her just before he died of cancer, “now is the time to show your mettle”.

So that’s exactly what she did.

Old age is ‘not so bad after all’

A US study of 14,000 adults over the age of 50 found that those more positive about getting old had a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke; better cognitive functioning and were more likely to take part in physical activity, among other benefits.

Heather joined a walking group, quickly progressed to fun runs and in 2011, at age 84, her physio suggested she try her luck at the Australian Masters Games in Adelaide where she clinched an astonishing four gold medals.

When The House of Wellness caught up with Heather, she had just received the Australian Masters Athletics Middle Distance Athlete of the Year Award and was wrapping up fundraising for cancer research in the NSW Cancer Council March Charge, knocking off 200km in a month.

“I’ve never had tickets on myself, I never thought I’d amount to anything really, but suddenly I find myself in the spotlight,” Heather laughs.

“I love the exercise, I think that’s what’s kept me going and it’s kept me fit all of these years.

“I hope that people who see me out and about do think that old age may not be so bad after all.”

Why age is no barrier to achieving dreams

Oscar winners Michelle Yeow, 60, and Jamie Lee Curtis, 64, are also proof there’s no age limit on reaching your prime, taking home Best Leading Actress and Best Supporting Actress gongs respectively this year, in an industry known for its predilection for youth.

In her acceptance speech Michelle slammed the idea that women have an expiry date.

“Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime,” she said.

“Don’t give up.”

South-Australian-based life creation coach Eleanor Crawford says they were not the only two on stage showing their best selves in their 60s.

“Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan had both been discarded by the industry for decades and came back and took home Oscars, and Sarah Polley won Best Adapted Screenplay in her 40s,” Eleanor says.

“And look at Helen Mirren,” holistic health coach Carla Thomas says.

“Not just how great she looks but her whole energy – she exudes sexiness, she’s a great example of how you don’t have to lose any of that as you get older.”

From Helen comes the infamous quote: “Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab. And 70 is f—ing awesome.”

Even science agrees, with US researchers finding people who see growing older as something positive living a whopping seven and a half years longer than those who didn’t.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Richard Mille (@richardmille)

5 expert tips to age happily

To help you embrace the next decade or five, we asked the experts for advice.

Embrace it

“Ageing is an inside job and it’s all about perspective,” Eleanor says.

“I turned 57 last week and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

“Whatever you put out is what you attract back, so if you succumb to feeling old that’s what you’re going to get back in from others.”

Look after yourself

“Be healthy, eat well, get good sleep, deal with everyday stresses and accept that yes, your skin is going to start changing, but if you’re growing and doing the things you want to do, you’re going to feel happier and more content every year,” Carla says.

Surround yourself with like-minded people

Eleanor says whether you’re single or in a relationship, pursue friendships with people who “want to grow” and who are interested and engaged in life, whatever their age, and yours.

And find some positive role models or mentors.

Set an intention

Rather than resolutions, Carla suggests choosing a one-word intention that will help you clarify what’s important to you and means you can start channelling your energy towards that.

Try trust, freedom, energy or discover, and let your word help guide your decisions.

Build gratitude and spend time in nature

“Putting things in perspective and understanding that we’re all just tiny little biological blobs hurtling through space – and it’s such a fluke and a miracle that we’re here at all – helps with gratitude,” Eleanor says.

“Look at nature – flowers bloom, they don’t waste time thinking about the flower next to them being prettier.

“Go dancing in the rain, swim in the ocean, feel the grass under your feet – nature gives us grounding energy and gratitude and it’s so good for us.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Helen Mirren (@helenmirren)

Written by Liz McGrath.