“Act your age” is a reprimand many of us have heard since we were children. But how useful is it, really?
And besides—what does it even mean? How exactly does a 50-year- old act? Or an 80-year- old? We all
know that there is no one, single, right way for everyone to act, no matter what his or her age. That is
why I suggest ignoring this mantra in favor of, “Act like the ideal YOU.”
Who Is the Ideal You?
Whether we consciously acknowledge it, each of us has an image in our minds of our ideal selves. That
ideal self doesn’t necessarily correspond with a particular age, but rather is represented by the type of
activities we enjoy, the mindset we have and the personality we radiate. Always acting like a person you
are proud of is much more important than acting 50, 80 or 90. That could mean investing your time in
charity work, making people laugh, studying philosophy, becoming more spiritual or following
intellectual pursuits. None of these activities are age-related.
This might sound contradictory to the last section, but there are certain ways you DO need to act your
age. As we grow older, our bodies do change. We might not be able to eat the same things, lift the same
weights or walk the same distances we once could. It is important to understand the very personal
physical limitations your age imposes and to respect them.
If you have trouble reading your body and its boundaries, you can always talk to your doctor about the
types of activities you want to engage in and see if your health and endurance level are appropriate for
Instead of making sure you act your age, focus on taking care of your body and embodying the traits of
your ideal self. Not only will this make you feel happier and more fulfilled, it will result in far fewer
regrets and open up entirely new worlds of opportunity you’d never have expected.