A couple of days ago, I came across an article that highlighted the achievement of a 78 grandmother as a social media influencer.
The case of the oldest person ( a 101 year old gentleman) in the world who had successfully skydived also made news.
Their feats are undoubtedly admirable. The lady is an individual who passionately makes the best of her life, indulging in an activity that not only brings her joy but manages to spread wisdom from life experiences. The 101 year old gentleman, who happens to be a World War Two hero, is also a great role model for others to overcome their fears and accomplish what they wish to. However, what would have gladdened me was if the reports highlighted their admirable spirit towards life. Instead, the emphasis lay stress on the sensationalism of age rather than their achievements.
Why are we obsessed about age?
Its not the first time that I’ve come across a newspaper report that seeks to sensationalize a praise worthy achievement based on the age of the individual. Women and men over the age of 70 who ran marathons or achieved what appears “impossible” to the world are proclaimed as doing what is not “usual”.
My question is why do we wish to highlight the admirable determination and spirit to succeed based on age or even gender?
In our desire to compartmentalize individuals based on their age or gender, we unwittingly forget the role that their distinct personalities play in their success.
If our aim is to appreciate the success stories of people, our efforts would need to be focused on their early years, the challenges they may have overcome and what makes them who they are today.
I do not refute the existence of the challenges that people face due to their age and gender. But I believe success stories need to fundamentally celebrate the indomitable spirit of human courage. From a Personal Development Trainer’s perspective, the more we give credit to a person’s determination, confidence and sense of commitment in their success, the less we are influenced by the factors that may have stopped them from achieving what they did.
Even in the gender battle, its not at all about who is better, it basically comes down to which job is seen by people as more “powerful” than the other. Women and men truly compliment each other. Notions of power and importance only result in an irrational comprehension and debate about who we are and the potential each have.
Two of the main ways of enhancing our appreciation for people is by –
1) Being Tolerant
Tolerance can defined as accepting another individual regardless of their culture, background, gender, age, religion, political views or race.
2) Appreciating Diversity
Make conscious efforts to appreciate the differences in people based on their culture and backgrounds. Engage in opportunities that give us a chance to respect diversity eg: travelling is a great way to overcome any prejudices we may have about countries or culture etc. Reading is another way to enlighten ourselves about the beauty of diversity.
3) Learn from Children
Toddlers are great examples of the joy we can experience if we are to refrain from bias, assumptions and prejudices about people. In a kindergarten, its always a pleasure to see children play with all, in their innocence.
4) Teach Children Young – Avoid Negative Stereotyping
As parents, we play a significant role in ensuring children grow up with the same healthy attitude they have in the early years. We also need to be careful in promoting in their minds a healthy and positive attitude towards people. An understanding and awareness regarding the rich and varied world we live in is necessary for children to lead fulfilling and happy lives with others in future. One of the areas in child rearing that parents often overlook is the unconscious manner they promote negative stereotyping of people.
Statements like, “She’s a girl so she cannot” or “He is old so he will not take part” all form irrational assumptions in children.
Encouraging children to mingle with people based on the simple fact that they are humans will allow the child to grow up without prejudice or bias. Even indirectly conveying to the child the prejudice you may have about a gender, status, race or age creates an unhealthy attitude in the child. Misconceptions in the growing child are catastrophic for their future, the prejudice we enforce in children would reflect in how they treat and see others when they become adults.
The tolerance and attitude we have towards others not only impacts our relationships but also our happiness in our life. The more simple our attitude towards people and life is, people’s age, gender, race, culture, religious beliefs will cease to influence our admiration for their abilities and courage.
Look beyond the differences that you see in people, let us purely toast and respect them for their worth.