Old people are boring – truth or myth?
While you can split hairs and say, “it depends on the individual,” it’s certainly a broadly accepted stereotype that old people lead boring lives.
Why? Basically, humans tend to fall into a serious habit of doing the same thing repeatedly. You could even say that a part of us is designed to be boring.
Here’s what I mean. It’s a natural instinct for us to not spend our energy making conscious active decisions throughout the day. In fact, we make about 35,000 decisions per day on autopilot. They take place in our basal ganglia instead of the prefrontal cortex.
The reason is, we were built to reserve our energy for fight-or-flight mode to survive in the wild. What’s more, we’re designed to procrastinate to avoid any stressors in life.
The glaring problem? We’re not living out in the wild anymore (most of us anyway, particularly if you’re reading this article from your computer).
So, if our species is designed to reserve energy and procrastinate on those adventurous plans you dream about, imagine doing that for decades. Put another way, the longer you repeat your boring habits the more stuck you become in those habits.
And when you’re stuck in a habit of doing the same thing repeatedly (for decades), you’re more susceptible to other outcomes that make you even more boring.
That’s right. Like not having anything new or interesting to say.
When you stay within the cozy walls for your comfort zone, you don’t have anything new to talk about. Your experiences and stories remain the same and you end up lacking something stimulating to add to a conversation.
Which leads to that classic stereotype of “old people repeat themselves.” Pretty boring on the receiving end, right?
What’s more is, your brain craves new experiences. To create new neural pathways (which you can do until the day you die), you need new experiences. Your neuroplasticity and cognitive health depend on it.
Another side effect of being stuck in rut is you become accustomed to your own opinions – and only your own opinions. You limit what your mind is exposed to, which is also another way to not have anything interesting to say. Who wants to hear your same opinion over and over again?
Not to worry, though. These characteristics aren’t applicable to all seniors, and are, largely, misconceptions spread by culture.
The truth is: You can be boring at any age.
In fact, a study by Airbnb claims that women reach a “peak boring” age at 35 (for men it’s 39). Supposedly, age 35 is when women are least likely to do things like stay out late on a weekday, try a new hobby, make a new friend, or book a spontaneous trip.
If you’re a woman in your 60s, and ready to make the most of your golden years, these activities are exactly what you should be doing if you want to live your ideal exciting and purposeful retirement lifestyle.
The problem? Here’s where culture comes in. Culture trains you to be more sedentary as you age and pushes you to fear the aging process altogether.
Take, for example, the sheer amount of TV seniors watch per week – a staggering 47 hours and 13 minutes for people aged 65+. Not to mention all the anti-aging messages broadcasted on TV.
Basically, culture trains you to stay boring – which also means further procrastinating on your biggest dreams and continuing to reserve your energy by living on autopilot.
If you take a look at the root cause of boredom, professor John Eastwood and team conducted a study out of York University in Canada that revealed there are two very different personality types that suffer from boredom:
The first group includes the mentally impulsive, those who are chronically under-stimulated and always looking for new experiences but don’t think the world is exciting enough.
The second group consists of those who aren’t satisfied with being comfortable, yet they’re chronically bored because they’re too afraid to try something new.
For seniors, culture pushes you into the second category. But, there’s good news – you don’t have to stay in that category.
Here’s what you can do: Simply get out of your comfort zone.
In other words, seek new experiences. Learn something new. Immerse yourself in new activities. Meet new people. Be open-minded.
There are so many benefits to creating new growth experiences for yourself, including:
The gist of it is: The good stuff – including not being boring – happens outside of your comfort zone. So, stop procrastinating and claim your place! You might just excite others in your social group to do the same.
What can you do (big or small) to step out of your comfort zone? What autopilot routine or habit can you break to create a growth experience for yourself? Please share your thoughts with our community!
Tags Getting Older