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Jennifer Aniston says we need to rethink the way we view aging: ‘Society has put these expiration dates on ourselves’

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Jennifer Aniston has gone from actress to businesswoman in her new role as CCO of Vital Proteins. (Credit: Getty images)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

Jennifer Aniston has been an American treasure since she won our hearts in her breakout role as Rachel in the 1990s hit Friends. (Seriously, who didn’t have the “Rachel” in the late ’90s?) Since that time, the actress has evolved into a multi-hyphenated creator, producer and businesswoman. In recent years, she’s become a staunch advocate for self-care, wellness and nutrition, and has been unafraid to challenge Hollywood and the media for its poor messaging about aging. Now the award-winning actress and activist has a new role to add to her portfolio: Chief Creative Officer at Vital Proteins.

The actress-turned-businesswoman took some time out from her responsibilities to chat with Yahoo Life about her new role, what brings her the most joy, the importance of being mindful and her philosophies on life.

How has your approach to self-care evolved as you've gotten wiser and have lived life a little more?

I think I've now become more aware. We take so much for granted when we're in our 20s and 30s, when self-care is like, “Oh, I'll sleep when I'm 80.” No. You need to sleep now. You need to start meditating now. You need to be mindful now. If you don't incorporate that into your body at a young age, it shows. I look at my older relatives and I see them aging. Universally, every single human being, we can't get away from it. We are all growing older no matter what, but we don't have to grow sick. We don't have to grow old and not be thriving.

You've also been outspoken about society's messaging around aging. What needs to change?

Society has put these expiration dates on ourselves, so we need to change that. It's like, alright, you're this age, so now this is the time when you go off to pasture because you actually are of no use to us anymore, to society. But because we know so much more than the previous generations — about health, nutrition, technology, science, there is so much — we’ve moved leaps and bounds. So what used to be 50 is not what it is [today].

Society needs some catching up to do — the languaging, the messaging. I think we need to stop putting ages next to people's names. I've never understood that. I’d much rather my height! It's like we’re a carton of milk with an expiration date and I think we need to figure out how to re-message all of that because what I'm able to do today — in this body, at this age, because of also now the life I've lived — now I've got even more I want to do and explore.

Jennifer Aniston finds her joy in gratitude. (Credit: Vital Proteins)
Jennifer Aniston's philosophy? "Find your gratitude." (Photo credit: Vital Proteins)

Why did you decide to take on the role with Vital Proteins?

I love that I'm able to be a part of it because I've used it for so many years — and I love it! I believe in it. Something that actually does what it claims [to do] is important to me. When my doctor told me to start using it seven years ago, he said, “Put this into your coffee.” I was like, “My coffee is perfect. I don't want to mess things up,” and he's like, “You won’t taste it.” Within two months, I saw and felt such a difference in my endurance, in my workouts, my hair, my skin, my hands, my joints. So when they approached me [about being the CCO], I said yes immediately.

What about being a COO inspires you?

It’s been a great collaboration of: How do we expand this? What new products could be created? How do you think these protein bars are tasting? What ingredients could we add that would add some extra nutrition? And the creative: How do we get the message out there? Being a part of that campaign and figuring it out, which was so much fun to come up with — to shoot the commercial was so much fun. It's just been nothing but good.

What brings you the most joy?

My dogs. The sunset. A glass of wine. My friends. I have great girlfriends, great male friends; I am surrounded by beautiful, really wonderful people who are inspiring, who promote goodness in the world. It's really important to surround yourself with people that are like-minded. Nothing to me is more fun than a Sunday with my friends coming over and hearing the kids splashing in the pool. That's my happy place — and then, a taco bar.

Do you have a philosophy by which you live?

Find your gratitude. It's gonna sound so corny but it’s a privilege to wake up in the morning. Don't sweat the small stuff.

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