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Many cultures revere their elders, with practices designed to demonstrate appreciation for those who are even slightly older. These rituals of respect become paramount to maintaining harmony between the generations.
So then why is ageism still the most socially-condoned prejudice? A report from the World Health Organization indicates that one in two people have moderate to high ageist attitudes. How is it that, in a world clawing for progress, we give ageism a pass?
For the final part of our very first Bean Pod, it’s my pleasure to welcome Natasha Ginnivan to disrupt our attitude towards aging. A blog writer at Mobilising Wisdom, Natasha reinvented herself midlife, obtaining her Ph.D. to embark on a passion-filled career as a researcher of psychology and aging.
Natasha’s intergenerational work focuses on how we can transform our life experiences, both good and bad, into sharable lessons. Today, Natasha dissects study-based advice that’s shown to increase our lifespan. She also provides creative ways we can realize our full potential as we age.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Sex & aging
- A simple secret to living seven years longer
- Invisible hand guiding you along your aging journey
- Awareness of how aging is framed all around you
- Collectivist cultures & elder abuse
Listen to the Full Episode
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Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Featured on the Show:
Get ready, because here comes ANOTHER BIG TRANSFORMATION! As usual, those in our free, online community — the IN TRANSIT Hub — will be first to know. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Join us today!
- Sundae’s Website
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae Bean – YouTube
- Wisdom Fusion Project
- Mobilising Wisdom
- Natasha Ginnivan – LinkedIn
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
- Ashton Applewhite
- Face: One Square Foot of Skin by Justine Bateman
Catch These Podcasts / Articles:
- World Health Organization: Ageism is a global challenge: UN
- The Media Portrayal of Older People, The Good, The Bad and The Absent
We’re delighted to be in the Top 5 of the global Best 30 Expat Podcasts!
Full Episode Transcript:
Hello, It is 2:00 am in New York, 8:00 am in Johannesburg, and 1:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to IN TRANSIT with Sundae Bean. I am an intercultural strategist, transformation facilitator, and solution-oriented coach, and I am on a mission to help you adapt & succeed through ANY life transition.
What if I told you I have something that can help you live seven years longer. The best part is it’s free. According to the research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Becca R. Levy, PhD of Yale University and her colleagues found that adults who developed positive attitudes about aging, lived more than seven years longer than peers who had negative attitudes. My question is; Why are we not talking about this more? We’re talking about vitamins, we’re talking about exercise regime, but just our attitude about aging can impact the longevity of our life. And that is why I’m so excited to have Natasha Ginnivan here. She is a researcher of psychology and aging, a blog writer at Mobilising Wisdom. And thanks for her bicultural and third culture kid (TCK) upbringing, she’s interested in cultural attitudes to aging, exploring age stereotypes and self perceptions of aging. Natasha, welcome to IN TRANSIT today.
Natasha: Thank you. Sundae, it’s is great to be here.
Sundae: I’m going to say a little bit more about your background so people have some details about you. Your work is centered around the ways that we can disrupt age stereotypes through intergenerational learning, and that’s something that I love, what you are doing is an absolute passion of mine as well, through mutual mentoring, reframing, aging and wisdom sharing. She’s an advocate for the importance of inner work and self-reflection, and is interested in how we can take our life experiences, both good and bad and transform these into lessons worth sharing. These include activities of self-inquiry, mindfulness and meditation, art exploration and creative ways to realize our full potential as we age.
So for people who know my work, they can completely understand why I’m excited to have you here today.
So, you certainly mean business when it comes to understanding our attitudes to aging and how it impacts our lives. I am so curious, how did you even come into this area of study?
Natasha: Yes. So interestingly, I went through transition in my 30s and felt like I needed something a little more. I used to be a designer in fashion and product development in my 20s. After I have my first child, I was interested in researching psychology. I’d always been quite interested in that field and I returned to studies at the University of New South Wales and took up psychology and my very first project was on implicit attitudes to aging. And we looked at the implicit association test as a class and we all sort of took it as an experiment and then we observed the score together as a class, and recognized that we all tend to have these implicit biases around aging.
And I was curious to know whether a cultural background had a difference, and I come from two different cultures, my dad’s Australia, my mum grew up in the Philippines. So I have a sort of Eurasian heritage and on my mother’s side of the family, it’s very kind of intergenerational. And so I went home and I took the implicit association test separately, and observe my own individual score and I recognize that it’s sort of deviated from the main and I didn’t seem to have as strong a preference for younger as the group class the group sort of average score. So that immediately I became fascinated with why culturally we do as collectively have a preference for young, and we tend to because of that, diminish ourselves as we age. And older people and “old” is something that’s not really considered attractive in Western culture, and I think things might be shifting little bit here and there, but overall, we still have some quite pervasively kind of attitudes, I think.
Sundae: I find this so fascinating. So you’ve mentioned, Western culture and maybe you can’t do this without over generalizing. But I’m curious what you know about how do cultural attitudes to aging differ. Because when I as an interculturalist, when I think about let’s say a preference for hierarchy, we have cultures that give power to hierarchy and others that focus on equality. So age is also on the hierarchy and I noticed living in West Africa that you show respect to your elders and it is it’s very much high on the hierarchy. So I’m curious, I have so many dirty intercultural questions right now at the intersection between aging attitudes and hierarchy orientation, and all of that. But just generally, what can you say about what you’ve noticed about cultural differences to aging?
Natasha: So, the focus of my main research that I undertook in postgraduate studies later when I did my PhD and I really explored predominantly Anglo but from the Australian perspective attitudes to aging. And then went over to the Philippines and did some field work there in collaboration with the University of Philippines. And I also did focus groups with younger and older people in both those cultures. And what I found was that younger people in the Philippines, from the moment they sort of can speak they’re given terms to preface that before they speak about the either cousin or brother or anyone who’s older not just sort of aunties, our uncles but even older brothers and sisters who are older. Just to keep in mind that that they’re a bit older than you and that there is this sort of like respect kind of thing.
It’s not really just about sort of thinking old people are better per se. It’s more about just a bit of reverence and reciprocity and all this sort of thing that is very important in these more collectivist sort of cultures. And a lot people will say, “Oh well, we should really strive for equality,” which is true. That’s an important aspect of any culture in any, particular, Western culture. And I think that’s sort of elder respect isn’t really about not being equal, it’s just something about group harmony is so important in those really highly intergenerational cultures that I think that by having this sort of elder respect just keeps things very harmonious and that’s what’s paramount for those intergenerational ways of living. But I think the byproduct of that is perhaps you then just tend to be a bit more mindful of how you regard older people and particularly, the very older types of people and I feel like that’s perhaps something that’s informed my attitudes to aging and my interest in aging.
Sundae: But it feels like a reversal of a youth-obsessed culture, let’s say in the United States where there is disrespect for people who are older, they are infantilized etc, etc. So it I’m wondering and this is all. So I’m curious about the cross-cultural research if people are treated better in those collectivistic cultures because I know elder abuse is a problem. It’s also a problem as well in Australia, right? So do you see patterns in attitudes to aging and how people are treated?
Natasha: Yes. I have to say that, unfortunately, ageism and things like elder abuse can occur in collectivist cultures and it’s known from a recent report from the World Health Organization that one in two people have moderate to high ageist attitudes. However, I think that when you have cultures where individuals are sort of raised to be mindful of keeping group harmony with this idea that they probably should show some respect to their elders. I think that informs your thinking as you go up that not only is that a great thing to keep group harmony within the family structures but it’s also for your own sort of psyche around aging and your own future self, you’ll feel better.
Because we know from the research that Professor Becca Levy, and many others in that space do, that as we transition through aging as we get older, if we haven’t had more of these more positive attitudes around aging, when we were younger, our own negative attitudes can actually turn on us as we get older. And that’s one of the things that we sort of are recognizing, now, more and more with the research.
Sundae: How does that work? How does our attitude to aging impact our lifespan? Like, what’s going on biochemically or what’s going on energetically that makes that impact?
Natasha: So, that is a really great question because I think it is more than obviously just sitting down one day and thinking, “Okay, I’m going to just, you know, flip my idea about being negative and be positive,” all of a sudden. That’s a great start but I think what it is is- and it’s because these studies have been done over 20, 25 years and different kinds, discrete lab-based ones, longitudinal ones, connecting it to health and things like that. So it’s very difficult to just pinpoint one mechanism. But what many of the studies are pointing to is sort of like how powerful the mind is, the expectation of how you can age can really impact the way you actually age.
But I think there’s a number of things along the way that could point to why this is probably such a powerful finding and some studies have found that people who embrace their aging more realistically and positively probably tend to pay more attention to the actual things that help as well, like on the on the health side. And yeah, so all of these things that can add up incrementally on a daily basis. But really it’s like the, I’ve described it before, like the invisible hand that helps you along your aging journey, is the really having those positive attitudes. And when I say positive, more like like positive and realistic at the same time.
Sundae: Exactly. Yeah. So here’s an example, there’s two examples, I think about:
- So I’m a runner. I run regularly. I’m not an impressive runner, but I do run regularly. And I know when I was 35, I saw someone running, who was probably 75. And I said to myself, “Sundae, if you do not get serious about running more regularly, you will not be a person who can run at 75.” And not that I will be able to do that. Not that someone has more value than someone who can’t run at 75. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is for me, in terms of my identity, I would love to be able to run at 75 and because I saw people running who were probably in their 70s, I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is possible.” Is it exceptional? Maybe and that is also a bit dangerous, right? That exceptionalism. But I thought, “Why not? Why can’t I try?”
- And I think the same thing comes to what I’m learning also about sex in aging. It’s so hidden. Like old people don’t have sex or like, “Oh that’s gross.” Are you kidding me? We still are sexual beings throughout our age, and it might change, but what I’m learning is like, oh, you can have a healthy sex life. And it might transform and change. But in in your 70s and I watched my own grandfather, oh my gosh, my own grandfather live till he was 92, and I watched him get a girlfriend. She was like in her 60s, it was a little controversial in the old folks’ home and he had this beautiful romance in his 90s, like late 80s, early 90s, and I thought, “Oh, it’s possible.” Love. You don’t stop falling in love because you turned 70 and because it wasn’t hidden from me, I just have so much more excitement and hope about aging. Because I think in our media, and I want to hear more about what you the impact of media on our attitudes, I think when we consume things from the media, we often mistake it for a mirror of reality, and we know that’s not true, right? So, do you have more information about the impact of media and stereotypes and how it impacts our own attitudes?
Natasha: Yeah, I read a little bit about that in my research and I predominantly talk about or focus in on what I describe as; the twin prejudice of ageism sexism in media portrayal. And one of articles I’ve written about was I described it or titled it: The Media Portrayal of Older People, The Good, The Bad and The Absent. And really what I’m referring to is that beyond a certain age women roles just drop off. And that one of the issues around why I think intergenerational contact and cultivation of those relationships is really important is because like your example you have an exemplar, role model, like your grandfather. Or for example my auntie remarried in her 80s. And it’s very possible to have a long life and experience all the things that you experience when you’re younger it’ll just perhaps be in a different way, in a different style of relating. And so the thing is with the media, we don’t have many examples. Although I do love Grace and Frankie, that’s a great example of older grown up relationships in older age.
But with the literature review I did and people have done other research on this, and they showed that like particularly in children’s programming out of like a huge sample of programs, however, many hours to get hundred percent characters. I think it was like between two and seven percent were old or older, for example, and out of those that very small portion, they were usually portrayed as senile, feeble, and useless, type of thing. And so kids, were like sponges and absorb everything, social categories, every other category. And as you know, children enter school, they’ve already formed stereotypes and so that only becomes worse. I think potentially with social media and just the level of media that we’re taking in every day, if there’s no change in the narrative, and for example, for females, the idea that they are only valuable, if they look a certain way and exist between the ages of And 35 or 40, that’s not a very healthy kind of way to think about ourselves as we age, right? And to have self-advocacy and empowerment and things like that and it does impact us. Because if we’re not seeing as you said the reality in the pervasive media reflecting back to us versions of ourselves that are considered empowering and exemplars and it does impact us.
And so it’s not to say men don’t experience ageism and they certainly do particularly in work and other activities like that. But if we talk about the media, I really feel that women’s roles in media are diminished. I don’t know if this is exactly ageism but there has been a lot of conversation recently about the Canadian television reporter, anchor, who was quote to quote blindsided and there was reports of-
Sundae: Yeah. Lisa LaFlamme.
Natasha: Yeah, Lisa LaFlamme.
Sundae: Right. And we also we had this conversation in a recent discussion with Ashton Applewhite in a community group when we talked about this double bind that women have. For example the same week, the Finnish prime minister got blasted because she is being in her 30s and going out and having fun. Not that, you know, how do you How do you show up with whatever energy you have? Do you have permission to do that? Do you not have permission? And so we’re seeing it. We’re seeing people blasted. And the question is, why does it matter? It’s because women when it comes to ageism, have more to lose because of the power dynamic, that historically has been going on.
Natasha: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And even in everyday language, we don’t- this is where the implicit bias, is that we’re not even sure or realize that there until something’s playing out. For example, I was discussing this recently, I think it was probably one of my post threads, and just the language we use when for example, I was describing something as sort of lesson when I was doing gender studies when I returned to go study. And I said to someone, a male that I know, I said, “Language is so subtle but It can be so powerful. And what if I said to you about a male, ‘he’s that kind of guy.’” And he said, “I have no idea what you mean. What are you talking about?” And I said, “Well, what if I said to you about a female, ‘she’s that kind of girl.’” And he said, “Oh well, we all know what that means.” You know, so subtle-
Sundae: And it gives me, honestly, it physically gives me a pit in my stomach. It went from my pit up into my throat because you said that immediately my body could feel the shame and judgement. And there might be listeners here like, “I still don’t get it.” Because it’s like, you can’t be that kind of girl, right? Because then you’re easy. You’re not to be respected etc. And it’s like, wow, that’s powerful, when you frame that, the subtleness of the implicit bias. Do you mind sharing, what are some of the biases that you’ve discovered about yourself during your research?
Natasha: Yeah, I think it’s interesting because I caught up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen since I was a child but she works at the University in a different section. And she said, “Oh, I saw you discussing aging on something recently,” and she said to me, she was having a joke with her sister in a very like fun joking way, she goes, “Oh imagine if Natasha had Botox or something,” right? And I said, “Yeah, no, I’ve never tried that. But whatever, I’m not judging if people want to try that.” I said, “But I do dye my hair and it’s mainly because I suppose I’ve always had dark hair and I’d be happy for it to all go gray. But it’s not going gray all at once. It’s just like these little bits here. And so I’m still mindful that it’s just it suits me to keep it even.” And when it’s at a point where I can make it more, sort of less even or whatever, or more even then, I’d be happy to kind of transition, whatever. And that is actually a really interesting transition for so many women like, hair is such a massive transition. And so, it was on my radar and so yeah. So it’s just, I know what the research says but my lived experience is kind of-
Sundae: Right? And we see, like an award winning newscaster, again, we don’t know for sure but there is a hunch or a suspicion that potentially, because she’s gone gray, she no longer suits the viewers tastes. I think that was one of the quotes that came. Hey, I do with myself. I don’t know. I’ve got some some gray rock in here and I’ve asked myself, “How do I want to show up if I am graying and I’m working to sort of undo my own biases on all the many, many levels.” Is their hypocrisy in continuing to balance the hair, like you said, the blending or is it my goddamn choice?
Sundae: That’s the whole thing. And that’s something I’ve learned from Ashton Applewhite in her work is it’s nobody else’s business. I get to choose what I do. But I will interrogate that, I will look at what feels right for me, and I’ll know if I’m betraying myself or my values. And we can’t say Botox is a perfect example. I used to be super judgy about women who did Botox. And I was judgy women who actually were like, who took care of themselves. Basically, who cared about their appearance, I was intellectualizing, “It’s about being smart, not beautiful.” So I was trying to resist patriarchy by saying, “Let’s be smart, not beautiful.” And I was like, well, “Why can’t you be both? Why is it one or the other?” So it’s my own undoing. I think it’s just important that we have these conversations.
Natasha: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, like you said, it’s not entirely just one thing or the other. We’re always in a process of integration. We’re always integrating different aspects of our own identity. I love that Justine Bateman has written that I started listening to, and she’s really putting it out there, and loud and proud about her aging journey, which I think that’s fantastic. I did see a post because I follow a lot of people who are interested in this area, it was a recent post about Kim Kardashian and it was a bit of a having a bit of a dig at her. She might have said something off the cuff, like, in my quest to stay young or looking young, if I had to, I would eat poop every day. Which is like – really sounds awful. And she a lot of people grabbed onto that and just said how terrible and desperate that is.
And I was asked for some commentary on that. And I think it’s like there are extremes that people feel like we’ve been socialized to think again, about that narrow band of what’s beautiful and what’s valuable for females to be. And so I wouldn’t want to like shame someone like Kim Kardashian, or anyone who has those sort of like desires to be extreme. I feel like it’s more of as Becca Levy points to in her book, it’s really the culture that is to blame, in terms of what we’ve been socialized to feel ashamed about. And so, I guess that’s kind of when we talk about all these like what are we feeling in our own selves? And I know what all the research says, I also know what being a woman in my early 50s is, internally, the subjective experience. Yeah.
Sundae: Yeah. And I’m so grateful for everyone out there, who is continuing the conversation, challenging norms, I know that takes courage. Staying in line with a culture is important. It could be even critical to your life depending on which cultural context you live in. So, I don’t want to delineate the critical nature of conforming to a culture in some context, right? Because it has huge – it could have financial implications on you, it could impact your life, your access to your children. Really, I don’t want to minimize that. And at the same time, I also appreciate those who are pushing the edges on cultural norms to create more space.
Natasha: Absolutely, you know, I recognize that we live in a world of rich and interesting different cultures. I was very fortunate to grow up, not only with two different cultural backgrounds, but my father was a diplomat, Australian diplomat, and he was very embracing and understanding of different cultures. But it is good to have a platform or opportunities to how some of the cultural issues that we swallow hook, line, and sinker, can impact our own psychology. And I think that’s what we doing on this sort of conversation here.
Sundae: And so I’m curious, you talked about integration, what I love about some of your work, you talk to as well about transformation and that’s another thing that we have in common. I’d love to hear more from you about how you see your work connected to transformation. And particularly, you talk about purpose. One of your favorite quotes that you mention, “Is you belong to your purpose before you belong to yourself.” Can you unpack that for us?
Natasha: Yeah, that’s really – I started writing this blog Mobilising Wisdom after I finished my PhD looking at cross-cultural attitudes to aging mainly because alongside my formal studies that I returned to, I also went on a kind of an inner journey of inner work if you like. And like many people had lots of transitions and got a divorce in my late 30s, early 40s. And when the world was kind of swirling around me, I’m trying to complete studies. I’m a single parent, I decided on going to work out how to sort of calm myself and self-regulate. And I found this Buddhist meditation dropping class, and found that as a way to anchor myself. But it also served as a way to expand my perception beyond, my own narrative, my own little personal monkey mind as some people would call it, you know.
Sundae: Oh God, I got one of those, I got one of those too.
Natasha: Yeah, we all have monkey mind every single day. And so, this is a way, just a personal thing that, I’ve been able to use sometimes. I still get overtaken and overwhelmed by the monkey mind, every now and then, but then this is a circuit-breaker to help me just drop back into a deeper level of being. And that combined with the sort of studies that I was doing, which at the time was psychology but also I was doing some philosophy and Western philosophy, Chinese philosophy. So for whatever reason that cocktail or combination of things came together that allowed me to continue. Just really expanding my perception and trying to really attune to what are some of the subjective experiences and how can that inform this whole, really trying to understand self-perceptions of aging and personality and all that kind of thing.
So I did that whole journey and then continued, we’re always continuing. But I feel like at certain points, it just really converged and helped provide a little bit of insight that sometimes people can resonate with. So the blog is not – I refer to some of my academic research because that’s naturally what would happen but at the same time – it’s mostly just a sharing of that inner experience. To, as kind of an offering for other people who are in my age group or want to understand more about culture and how that impacts different perceptions. And then because it’s my research, particularly to do with transitioning through life stages, midlife and beyond kind of thing.
Sundae: Hmm. So what would you, if we wanted people are walk away with one or two practical things on how they can start shifting their attitude to have more positive one, and Ashton Applewhite says more realistic, right? Not just positive for positive sake but actually realistic more realistic perceptions of aging. what are one or two things that we could do?
Natasha: So it would be really just to be aware, just to start being aware, you know. I think because we are so bombarded with daily messages whether it’s social media or television or streaming programs. Just to start to be aware of some of the language of the way that aging is framed, and that’s a very powerful thing in itself. To shine the spotlight of awareness on something is incredibly powerful. And then the second thing would be to realize and I think this is like a lot of what Becca Levy talks about in her fantastic book, Breaking the Age Code which I highly recommend, is to realize-, she’s got this ABC method – the B is for Blame. Blame, blame the the surrounding culture, not in the way that we are trying to diminish it, that we know it’s important, but that it can also have its downside. So, the downside is that ageism is given a pass. It’s still the most socially-condoned prejudice. So there’s that.
And so, you realize that your own negative age attitudes, the ones that we talked about, we still deal with gray hair or that kind of stuff is because of mostly the culture, right? So that we’ve internalized that. So once you start to shine the spotlight of awareness on it and then you realize it’s not entirely just something intrinsic to you. It’s something being very powerful influences and then is to really start changing that in some way. To push back on it. Have these conversations, really unpack those little implicit biases. How powerful the subtle of the way subtly frame things are. And then just try and be compassionate with yourself about it and compassionate with others that you’re having these conversations with. I have very robust conversations about this and we’re all still finding our way and sometimes. It does get a bit like very heated. And there’s no one way to say we can’t be ageist or there’s lots of different views and I think holding, just having space for all of the views is a really good thing if that’s possible.
Sundae: Absolutely. I think it’s also important. We talk about the other prejudices and biases. One of the things that I – because I have been working on my social justice commitment, and looking at how am I showing up to contribute to unfair dynamics? What can I do to break down and part of me initially resisted even thinking about ageism because we have other important ageisms, where people’s lives are, literally being lost, right? And so I was conflicted at that and then the more that I read the work, the more I realize that ageism is like the intersection across all biases when identities – and it sounds really nerdy like are compounded. When you intersect race and age or your sexual identity and age that then it makes all of those amplified, ability status, etc.
So it feels like, although I wanted to resist that in the beginning, I’m actually seeing an opportunity for a unification of awareness for people who might have their radar only on one thing or only on another. It might expand our awareness to other ways in which people are being disadvantaged or privileged. I just wanted to say that. It’s important to put that out there in the conversation.
Natasha: Yeah, absolutely. I think ageism is one of the unfortunately “isms.” Obviously, there’s intersectionality with, with race and gender and then also, there is unequal aging in terms of whatever life trajectory you’ve experienced in terms of the socioeconomic position that you’ve been born into. So there’s all of these things that come into it and social justice is absolutely important for marginalized groups. And then of course, we’re all aging so that is a big unifying force. So you know if we can kind of recognize that the way that we’ve additionally been seeing older people and aging population. And stop really only framing it as negative, and recognize that realistically we decline in the life course and we eventually die but there’s a huge opportunity with this longevity we’ve gained over the last century to bring our attitudes more in line with the longevity we have, right? We’ve grown kind in terms of the longevity another 30 years over the last century where we are living now to 80 and 90. But our attitudes seem to be going in the opposite direction.
Sundae: Yes, that’s so interesting. There’s so much more I want to talk about but I wanted to turn our attention a little bit to you. If you don’t mind you mentioned about your own personal transformation and one of the things that I’m committed to is Ambitious Transformation in Transition, right? Our lives are constantly in transit. So many layers, whether it’s health or family or profession and so that’s just one way to think about. I’m curious, what are some of the transitions that you’re feeling right now?
Natasha: Yeah so I’m in my early 50s, my youngest is completing high school, I’m sort of feeling like it won’t be much longer now until I’m almost like an empty nest situation. But interestingly also because I returned to studies in my 30s and kept going and then got a postgraduate degree in my 40s. I’m sort of in a stage where most of my colleagues are younger than me. I’ve sort of reinvented myself in a new role in academia and so I’m kind of still in the early career level as a, you know. So and then, just as a person in her early 50s, I guess last year was a year of many things. The year before, unfortunately, my mom passed away just at the beginning of the pandemic and it intersected with menopause.
Sundae: Oh my gosh.
Natasha: And all of these great things and also trying to carve a path in this new career, after deciding, in my wisdom to go back and study. So you know, this is a lot.
Sundae: Mmm, that’s exactly why I talk about life in transit because look at all that you’re holding on your shoulders, right? That is incredible. And so I’m thinking about, when we think about the transformation that’s going on that is shaping us. Sometimes it’s internal, I think, I’ve seen that in your work as well like you hear a whisper of something inside. Or it could be something external, an unexpected divorce or the COVID crisis, whatever it might be. Or it could be something ambitious, like a performance goal that you have. Are you feeling all of those right now? Is one tugging on you more than the other? Tell me more about where your tug in your own transformation process.
Natasha: It’s funny. I was looking, you know, at those three dimensions and feeling like I am absolutely being pulled in every single direction of those, internally, externally. And so I actually message someone’s to a colleague today describing my workday or my work life currently, and I used a Dolly Parton quote I love. I said, “I’m busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition.”
Sundae: *laughter* That’s fantastic. Yeah. So that’s a lot. So with all of that in consideration, how would you define ambitious right now? For me because I am a “doer,” ambitious means doing less actually. So ambitious has to be outside the scope or scale, externally defined, you need to define it. So what is ambitious for you?
Natasha: Yeah, it’s interesting, I think ambitious for me in this stage of life is very different to what ambitious meant for me in my 20s and 30s. I think it’s also many people report this as they get older and sort of midlife and beyond, that sort of like gaining aspects of your identity and goals. And it’s a bit of an ego project, when you’re younger. It’s not to say we don’t have egos when were older, but I feel like it’s about, trying to strip some of that back and let some of that stuff go. And also, I feel like I have put so much out there into the into the universe or just out there generally that now I’m just riding the wave of what’s been created and trying to not strive as much but really trying to just steer my way through these waves that created.
It’s so wonderful. So I know our time is coming to a close. I’m just curious. What are you working on right now that you think it’s important for people to check out?
Natasha: Well in my research I’m just about to launch a study where people – it’s called its acronym is DECODE but that stands for Daily Life Context and Age-Based Judgments. And what it is, it’s a study within a project that my supervisor current density has called, “The lab without walls,” and it’s a short four-week study, but I’m I’m inviting participants of all ages or over 18, 80 and beyond to sign up and give me a sense of each day whether they experience or become aware of any age based judgments in a set of domains like, work or to do with health or to do with their finances.
A set of domains, that’s been researched to show that both younger and older people experience age-based judgments. And so I’m going to be launching that soon locally in Sydney in the lab where that was, and will be interesting to sort of see. I’ll be asking people about subjective age, every single day, they’re just report to me, how are they feeling today? Because some days I feel like 20 and other days I feel like my menopausal 52 year-old, you know what I mean? And so it’ll be interesting to see across the age groups how consistent that is. Because often older people report feeling younger, a lot of the time as well. There’s so much. Yeah, so much to unpack there.
Sundae: I’m just fascinated. I think when we look at the impact of attitude on health, I look at my parents, they live young in their hearts and their attitudes and you physically see it. It’s incredible. It’s almost embarrassing like, when they go to their high school reunions, they like are like, “You guys are in the wrong reunion.” They really stick out but it is because of that inner fire that they feel, I think it impacts their health and all of that. So I love that. I want high quality of life. However people define it for each and every person. So if we can access that through our attitudes and that can actually impact the quality of our life individually, and also for others that I don’t put those things on others, I think it’s a beautiful place to start.
So thank you so much for sharing your research and your wisdom. Oh my gosh. I just love that.
Natasha: No, thank you.
Sundae: It’s been wonderful. And my inner academic is just so excited to hear about the research. I appreciate it so much. And for those who have been listening, I hope you will take away the one thing she said about how powerful shining a spotlight is at awareness because that can impact then how we’re showing up for ourselves and how are showing up for others. So I will close on one of Natasha’s favorite quotes from Mark Twain: “The two most important days are the day you were born and the day you know why.”
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