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媒库文选 | Riding High Into the Sunset 笑迎夕阳

媒库文选 | Riding High Into the Sunset 笑迎夕阳


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参考消息网4月18日报道 Jake Kasdan's 2019 movie “Jumanji:The Next Level” opens with returning hero Spencer already at low ebb—he's lonely at college, browbeaten at work and sharing his bedroom with Grandpa Eddie. But the thing that pushes him over the edge,driving him back into the dangerous alternate reality of the movie's title, is the idea that life's inevitable decline has already begun.

“Getting old sucks,” Eddie says, as he fiddles with the portable oxygen machine on his bedside table. “Don't let anybody tell you any different.”

Social psychologist Becca Levy spends much of “Breaking the Age Code” doing exactly that, weaving together case studies and her own research to demonstrate that old age doesn't have to suck at all. The expectation that aging means decay, Ms. Levy shows, is actually a major reason it so often does—our negative view of aging is literally killing us.

The first part of the book is so full of flabbergasting results that they become almost monotonous. In 2002 Ms. Levy combined results from the Ohio Longitudinal Study on Aging and Retirement with data from the National Death Index to reveal that, on average, people with the most positive views of aging were outliving those with the most negative views by 7.5 years—an extraordinary 10% of current life expectancy in the United States.

Ms. Levy leavens this research summary with portraits of inspiring elders, from the actor who started memorizing the whole of “Paradise Lost” when he was 60, to the 91-year-old nun who runs triathlons. She also shows the scientific method at work, as when she describes how statistical analysis helped her establish that positive age beliefs bring better health—instead of the other way around—and how lab results demonstrated that those who were exposed to positive age beliefs walked faster and with better balance.

In the second part of “Breaking the Age Code,” Ms. Levy steps out of the lab to examine the “silent, complex, and often deadly ways” ageism operates in society, and how we can change it. We may be living longer and healthier, but over the last 200 years views of older people have steadily worsened. Ms. Levy blames this shift on the media, the antiaging industry and a “multibillion-dollar‘medical disability complex’”.

Ms. Levy finishes with a vision of paradise: “A place where ageism does not exist.”But this is no idle fantasy, it's Greensboro,Vt. She stops for homemade lemonade with an 81-year-old writer for the local paper and swims at Caspian Lake with a real-estate agent in her 80s. When older people and society around them are “harmonized in a productive way,” Ms. Levy continues, it shows how “aging can become a homecoming, a rediscovery, a feast of life.” Or—as Grandpa Eddie puts it after his adventure has left him closer to Spencer than ever before—“Getting old is a gift.”