La Voz de Galicia – July 21, 2023 →

Cristina PatoThe other day, I was listening to a podcast that talked about old age, the joy and the lessons that we can take away from older people. It was in the context of an interview with American psychologist Laura L. Carstensen, who developed the Theory of Socioemotional Selectivity, a theory proposing that when temporal horizons shrink (due to age or illness) there are also changes in a person’s motivation that make them «more selective, investing more resources in emotionally meaningful objectives and activities,» a theory that led her to the «discovery of the positivity effect in the cognitive process.»

According to Carstensen, the «positivity effect» makes the elderly «favor positive stimulus over negative,» and «when temporal horizons shrink, objectives oriented towards the future…begin to lose importance, and objectives in the future…gain priority.» And it was that idea of future objectives that made me think. In this path I chose where nothing is permanent, sometimes I dream about reaching old age (in good health and having a place to live) to be able to be in the present moment fully. Because I think that much of my daily anguish is directly related to that future one knows one can’t control.

I’ve always felt fortunate because I grew up surrounded by old women who have a special wisdom that, despite their circumstances, make them capable of creating their own way of life. And I suppose that is why I continue to dream about learning how to age like them, trying to find happiness in the present I have to live despite circumstances.

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