Most people dread getting old. It’s as simple as that. Our aging is a sign that we are moving closer to the end of our lives, and yet from the moment we are born, aren’t we all moving in that direction? We sit around thinking that the best years of our life are behind us, we focus about our daily, perhaps constant aches and pains, and the worst thing is that we let our minds place limitations on our lives. We allow our brain to dictate what our bodies will be doing that day.
For the ladies, we must have perfect hair and makeup, our outfits must flatter our bodies, no matter how uncomfortable they are and we work hard to look our best to please ourselves and those around us. Men don’t seem to worry about the external pressures and go more for comfort, wearing what they want and not worrying if Bob and George like their outfit. As a result, men seem to keep plugging away, working in the yard, puttering around in their garages, getting up on ladders when they probably shouldn’t, and don’t seem to be as bothered about getting old. The difference? Society doesn’t have the same expectations for men as women. So what if we didn’t worry about what society thinks? How could we enjoy the golden years, as they used to be referred to?
My mother just turned 85 years young on Friday. She is an amazing woman with a ton of spirit, drive and grit. She is filled with pain in her feet from neuropathy, and it greatly impacts the physical side of her life. And yet the joy of music coaxed her out on the dance floor last night as she attempted to do the Electric Slide on carpet that just wouldn’t cooperate. Never to be defeated, she and her hubby decided to just slow dance to the rest of the songs, completely forgetting about the limitations that usually keeps her glued to a chair. The spirit in her soul overcame that powerful brain that so often controls our lives.
So how can we change our perspective on getting old? Once again, the secret to my mother’s age and her good health can be found in many of the ideas listed below.
1) Make your community. Connect with a group of friends that could care less about what you are wearing and how your hair looks that day. They will take care of you when you are sick, and will laugh at your silly jokes and they will be there, no matter what.
2) Find your spirituality. Through prayer and meditation, we will connect with a higher sense of purpose, and God will show us that there is so much more to our lives than just our daily routines and our limitations. He will give us courage to try new things and not be limited by what we should be doing at “our age.”
3) Make a difference to others. Animals, other people and our earth need our help. Find an organization that you believe in and donate your time or money or both to make a real and needed difference. The world is starving around us for love, food and the preservation of nature. Take the money you spend at Starbucks or at a casino and share it with a cause that makes you feel good inside.
4) Take charge of your health. Don’t just listen to what your doctor tells you to do, listen to your body and do what it tells you to do. Many of my readers liked a story I wrote on mindful eating. I think the title should have been “Mindful Living”. Don’t worry about diets, just eat what seems to make you feel the best inside. Stay up late, get up early, go dancing, go for walks, go swimming, and listen to music until you forget about your age. Just do things that are good for your body and soul.
5) Stay smart. Don’t forget about taking care of that powerful brain. Read books, do puzzles, go to art and history museums, sign up for classes just for fun, and sign up for Luminosity, a great website that will stretch and measure your acuity while giving you 30 minutes of “brain games” a day.
6) Let those creative juices flow. This is the biggest thing that changes in most of our lives as we get older. We forgot about how much fun art classes or home ec was when we were kids. Sign up for some inexpensive classes you can take with your friends and find out how much fun you’ve been missing out on. Join the online “Meet Up’s” website and based on your own interests, you will get daily emails about writing classes, movie clubs, music events, drawing workshops, combined “happy hour and painting” sessions, hiking, biking and every creative thing you have ever wanted to do.
7) Go enjoy nature every day. There is nothing more spiritual, creative and calming than a quiet walk in the woods, along a beach or just a stroll through your own back yard. Commune with nature and let your spiritual side sing with joy at the beauty that God has given us to enjoy every day.
8) Create your legacy. Think about what people will remember you for. What did you do to make a difference in other people’s lives or the world around you? What will people remember you for? The paintings you painted, the neighborhood or world projects you were involved in, the stories you wrote about, the special costumes you made for your kids to play in, the special dishes that you became famous for that will be missed forever, the kindness you showed everyone, the love and devotion you showed to animals in need of some love.
Whatever you are passionate about does not have to end as you get older. Focus on the fun, creative activities that make you feel warm and happy inside. The aches and pains will drift away someday and the thing we’ll remember as we take our last breath is that we had a life full of happy, creative and amazing experiences on this earth and now we can look forward to a richer, more joyous life in Heaven.
The knowledge we gain as we get older truly is a blessing. We realize that life is fleeting and that we need to take each day and make it the very best that we can. Live every day like it’s your last and fill it with laughter, music, dancing, art, gardening, cooking, sewing or whatever makes you forget about those years behind you. You are only as old as you act, so get up out of your chair and go dancing, just like my mom did last night!