Column: Can you name 3 not-so-bad things about aging? How about 2? How about 1?

Senior woman exercising with dumbbells on beach.
The benefits of growing older include the wisdom gained by decades of dumb decisions, and the ability to care less about what others think. (Getty Images)

My 1-year-old beagle, Philly, keeps stealing socks, tries to eat horse manure on our morning hikes, and can be as stubborn as a summer heat dome. But I’m glad this is the dog I chose to adopt six months ago, and I owe it all to the well of wisdom that deepens as you age.

The hound I really wanted was a newborn puppy, but when I went to sign the papers, he peed on the floor, ran through the puddle and splashed around on my lap.

As a younger man, I would have thrown caution to the wind and taken him home, threatening my marriage and carpeting. But as a mature adult who looked like he’d just wet his pants, I halted the adoption process, and later found Philly, who was older than the first dog, and house-trained, sort of.

I’m telling you this because there’s lots of grim news to report when you’re on the aging beat, and I’ve done plenty of that. But growing old isn’t all bad. You’ve got a lifetime of dumb decisions and deep regrets to learn from, and you keep getting smarter.

Common sense isn’t the only benefit of growing old. Just the other day, I asked my wife whether she had any thoughts on the subject, and she instantly came up with two things. As you age, Alison said, you care less about what other people think of you.

Couldn't agree more.

And No. 2, Alison said, you get over the fear of missing out, which some people are apparently referring to as FOMO.

Also true, but enough already with the acronyms. And I’m able to say that about FOMO because speaking your mind is another BOGO (benefit of getting older).

Read more: Letters to the Editor: What it was like to know L.A.'s oldest man, Morrie Markoff

I should confess, by the way, that I flat-out stole the idea for this column, leaning on Oscar Wilde’s excuse that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The Longevity Project publishes a highly entertaining weekly newsletter called "Three Not-So-Bad Things About Aging and Longevity," a collection of bits and bytes about medical breakthroughs, personal achievements and more.

A couple of examples:

The newsletter linked to a Harvard School of Public Health study that looked at happiness and life satisfaction, meaning and purpose, and close social relationships. The findings? As the newsletter put it: “The older you are, the better off you are, often by quite a bit.”

Another installment reported that “living to 100 is becoming increasingly common — by mid-century, the UN projects that there will be 3.7 million centenarians alive worldwide — and the idea of the healthy and active centenarian is becoming increasingly normalized."

Like a lot of such news, there is a flip side to the growing ranks of the century club, namely that Social Security checks may bounce and the number of irritating pharmaceutical ads on TV may triple. But the Longevity Project, established five years ago in conjunction with the Stanford Center on Longevity, is all about highlighting research and triggering conversations that explore all the challenges and opportunities related to aging.

As for the newsletter, which launched 18 months ago, Longevity Project founder Ken Stern told me the idea was to educate and entertain, and maybe even to inspire.

“The stories that are the most fun are people doing interesting things in their second and third chapters,” Stern said. Especially when they've found meaningful things to do, rather than sitting around watching their toenails turn yellow.

Stern cited, as an example, the story of a retiree named Randy Yamada, the often shirtless 70-year-old unofficial mayor of the community of Royal Kunia, Hawaii, northwest of Honolulu. Yamada spends his days looking after neighbors, watering their yards and fixing what’s broken.

“It may not seem entirely fair — these people get to live in Kunia and they get to have their own neighborhood concierge — but it’s a good deal all around,” the newsletter observed. “Great for the neighbors, wonderful for neighborhood spirit and good for the mayor," who told Island News that "taking care of his neighborhood keeps him aging well."

One reason the newsletter appeals to me is that my own mailbag is filled with examples of “not-so-bad things” about aging. For instance, isolation has been called a public health epidemic among older adults, but I’m going to meet soon with Los Angeles Rabbi Laura Geller, who emailed me about the solution she's been working on. She has established what are known in a growing national movement as "virtual villages," in which older adults are linked up to look after one another and find purpose in community causes.

Geller launched ChaivillageLA, bringing together members of Temple Isaiah and Temple Emanuel, and she's using the same model to link older adults in the San Fernando Valley and in New York. There are several dozen such collaborations in California, and you can find one in your region at

Another not-so-bad thing about aging is that the birthday parties get better. That might be because younger family members fear each one might be your last, but that’s not such a bad thing, even if you lack the lung capacity to blow out all of those candles.

Carlos E. Cortes, professor emeritus of history at UC Riverside, wrote to tell me he had recently turned 90, still teaches part time, and takes a three-mile hike six days a week. He also sent along a column he'd written for American Diversity Report about his 90th bash.

“The older I get, the more I detest celebrating my birthday,” Cortes wrote, saying he'd resisted his daughter’s efforts to throw him a party. She insisted, and the result was a year of planning for an epic celebration that included a book and movie about his life.

“Family has always been important to me. But it’s never meant more than during those glorious 366 days (with leap year) of my 89th year, highlighted by some of the best family-and-friend conversations I’ve had in years,” Cortes wrote in his column. “So save the date, April 6, 2034, when I turn 100.”

Read more: Column: She's 80, washing dishes, and fighting for a better deal for younger workers

And here’s one last take on not-so-bad things. It comes from actor Dirk Blocker ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine," etc.), whose father, Dan, played Hoss on "Bonanza." Blocker had emailed me about my column on Morrie Markoff's multiple life adventures — machinist, appliance repairman, photographer, sculptor, author — and ultimate death at 110, and I asked whether he had any upbeat thoughts on aging.

Blocker sent three.

First, the mellowing: “Like a shedding of skin, perceptions of certainty and control have given way to a lessening of stress and have increased my capacities for patience, empathy and understanding."

Second, it’s never too late: “I have the time ... for things I once viewed as luxuries … I am playing the guitar and my fear of singing publicly seems to have disappeared, as in, who cares what others think?”

Third, you deserve it, so why not: “Naps. A simple but immensely satisfying after-lunch restorative indulgence I gladly succumb to."

I like all three of those.

And now here's a homework assignment for the rest of you:

Send me one or two pretty-good things about aging, other than senior discounts.

Make it three, and you can take a nap.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.