Saturday, January 12, 2013

New York Times: Everyone is doing it? Take a guess!

Have you ever wondered why a long prison sentence does not deter crime or why people don't vote? What if someone were to tell you that we have it all wrong. The socially accepted wisdom does not work. Prison terms do not deter crime because we just can't focus on what might happen in the distant future and voting does not connect people in anyway. 

Op-ed columnist for the New York Times, David Brooks, posted an article this morning talking about a book written by Eldar Shafir of Princeton called The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy. Brooks called the book "weighty" probably referring not only to the subject matter but also to the book's length.
The article's title was Beware the Stubby Glass. The theme for the article was that a lot of the commonly held psychological beliefs are just a bunch of bunk!
The Behavioral Foundations
of Public Policy

I was especially interested in the idea that people don't vote even though they know that it is very important. Humans, it seems, really don't care about what is important. What they really care about is being in...they want to be perceived as trendy and cool and part of an crowd. When a group of people are led to believe that everyone is voting they are more apt to vote.

What is everyone doing...getting older. That's what!
Why does this concept that people are more willing to participate if everyone is doing it interest me? The number of people falling into my age group is growing by the hour. And that sector of society is trying to rename themselves because the negative connotation for "senior" is "old" and they don't look or feel old. Even the "boomers" are worried about what to call themselves. Hence the dreary talk about the post working years. Being in the "senior crowd" does not work for them. It is not about the people that they associate with, it is all in the name we have given that group of people. Society has held the view that growing older is just terrible. Could society be wrong? As Brooks pointed out, it could be that making some small changes could make a big difference. When people do not want to be who they are, no one is happy. But by changing a few words we could change a commonly held psychological belief.

So what if we just quit using words that labels a whole segment of society as less useful? In a previous post I vowed to quit talking about "retirement" and I am trying very hard to quit using the words that have a negative connotation. I am ready to move on to a time when I don't think about numbers and instead focus on what each day holds. I think that if those people approaching a new stage in their life were to do this, they would be more apt to move on with enthusiasm just as people are willing to vote if they see that it is what others are doing. After all, everyone is aging...everyone.

I think it is wonderful to be part of a active involved group of people that I love to be with and share a common bond. But isn't that true at any age? When you begin to think this way, you can see that age has nothing to do with the way you live your life. We are all in the same boat, have the same concerns and love life. I think the way to age positively is to stop worrying about what number you are or the labels and continue to be the person you have always been.

Let's do away with the psychological bunk. Everybody I know is living a beautiful life and I can only think that if they can do it then I want that too. I am much more willing to join when I realize that I am not alone and my peers are a very interesting group of people.

And please, don't label me now or ever!

Just a thought.

ps. I have hesitated to publish this post for some reason. I could use a little feedback. Click the google+, twitter or facebook sharing function. It helps me.  Thank you.

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  1. This post is a little edgier than your usual. I like it. I was at a dance last night - got kind of dragged there by friends - and I watched people my age and older line dancing, conga lining, YMCA-ing, and Twisting. We looked like our younger selves in every way but hair color and shape. I thought it was great. I'll be dancing again next Friday.

  2. Good for you! Dancing is one of the big reasons I come to Arizona...a younger version of myself is the one I bring along. But don't tell my children. They may not approve! :)



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