Listen to the older couples in restaurants and you’ll get an earful of history, humor, and hope. Change is challenging and gracefully growing older isn’t easy to accept. My mother used to say boldly, “I can’t wait until I am older, because then my hair will change color and no one can say anything about it!” We stared at her at the table, and my dad snorted a laugh.
Why did she say this you may wonder? My father was old school, where no one dyed their hair, tanned their bodies, or pierced their ears (let alone their tongue, belly button, or nose). Her interjection into the dinner had us all chuckling.
She had a point.
She looked forward to aging, because change meant real change. However, my mother, who turned 70 in 2012 barely had silver streaking her black hair. She passed away that fall, and never having achieved the coveted color change nature provides.
What does the story have to do with gracefully aging? It’s about accepting and embracing the chaos of change. Life happens. We age. We can do so fighting every step of the way or we can look at it, like my mother, as an adventure waiting to happen.
The question then is how do you feel about someday turning sixty, seventy, or eighty? Perhaps you struggle to imagine yourself growing older. Maybe looking ahead to your golden years sends chills up your spine. For many, aging includes living an inactive life. With it comes potentially failing health. However, you can retain your vigor and enjoy a positive existence, if you wish.
Actively apply the strategies below to age gracefully:
Have something to look forward to.
Find a few hobbies and activities to explore and develop. You might try them alone, or with your peers. Connecting and sharing with our friends brings joyful anticipation into your life. When you have something to dream about, your mind is actively thinking and looking ahead. Anticipation helps us stay focused on a positive future.
Allow yourself to experience excitement and awe.
Some people have the idea they need to set aside the excitement of youth as they age. Our childlike wonder and awe is supposed to be gone by the time we reach our 60’s or so the world dictates. However, you can choose to notice events, items, or people, which make you feel a special “Wow.” When you find them, let yourself feel the wonderful stirrings of your soul.
Be as physically active as possible.
Whether you’re twenty-five, forty-five, or sixty-five, recognize the importance of moving your body. As counter intuitive as it sounds, arthritis actually has less pain when we exercise and stay as fit as possible.
The focus on creating an active lifestyle, no matter the limitations, will enhance your health, mindset, and spiritual side. Plan every day to find activities to get you up and moving. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, start incorporating a walk every day, dance around your living room, or practice yoga.
The brain losses cells when we stop exploring life. Seek out ways to learn something new. Strive to learn something new each day. Exposing yourself to new knowledge has been shown to deter the development of various cognitive dysfunctions associated with aging. According to research, note taking with a pen or pencil increases the power of the mind.
For instance, Hetty Roessingh, from the University of Calgary, shared, “Creating neurocircuitry for memory and meaning through the hand-brain complex is the key to understanding the value of hand-written notes” (2020).
- Learning ensures you put on your thinking cap and stretch your mind. In essence, make it a point to consistently learn new information.
- Find an interest, research, read, and take notes on the topic, and then share the topic with others, whether in a gathering with friends, or create a course on the topic.
Put Things to do in your life.
Take consistent action toward planning something to do daily. While being busy, busy, busy isn’t good, staying productive is a gem. Plan to talk to a relative or a friend every day.
The connections we make keep us sharing and caring. Laugh with others about the silly things you experience. Remember, the connections you have with others to talk to, spend time with, and explore new things with will keep you young at heart.
Strive to eliminate stress from your life.
The deleterious effects of stress are well-known. Headaches, ulcers, digestion issues, cardiovascular issues are byproducts of unregulated negative stress. Your brain becomes stronger cognitively. You are likely to live longer when you learn to manage your stress effectively.
Shift your schedule. Alter the plans you set in stone, when those areas create trouble. If you know more negative people than positive, seek to reduce contact so you limit exposure to negativity. Find the positive people to hang out with. Live a life of integrity and truth. Take care of your body and soul.
- Plan on healthy stress, called Eustress.
- You’ll age gracefully because you block out the bad stress.
Gratitude builds resiliency. When you look for the good things which happen every single day, you’ll build a positive focus and a gentle heart. For instance, celebrate each year you are alive.
- Make a grateful list. Every day when you have your morning coffee or tea, write the blessings you remember from the day before.
- Become a gratitude detective and locate as many things as you can every single day. By looking for the good, you’ll see the good more often.
Surround yourself with family and good friends.
As you age, you begin to recognize connections with those you love and who love you are essential treasures. Your job, money, or fancy possessions won’t replace them. Keep your connections with close and extended family members and friends as strong as possible.
Choose to limit discussions with people who want to debate, who find fault with everyone, and plan activities to help distract those naysayers with positive experiences. If family isn’t a place you can comfortably connect with, find others who will be your pseudo family. Many people need grandparents and parental figures to encourage them through their lives.
Share kindness and understanding.
Unlike the memes, which make us laugh about cranky old men, become a positive, joyful aging adult. Limit the demandingness, which older generations tend to exert.
No one owes you anything, so let the attitude go. Emphasize the good inside you by acts of caring towards others. When you show a compassionate side, others will want to be near you and it may keep you young. Others will be drawn to you and your kind nature.
Look for options.
Remind yourself of the different options you have available to you. You are old enough to know what you want and need in life. The best news? You determine the direction you’re heading in life. You have the power to navigate your life however you see fit. Revel in the thought!
- Own your choices.
- If you’re living in the city and working sixty hours a week now, is it what you want to do?
- As you age, you’ll become more aware of how you’re spending your time.
- Make choices that are best for you.
Discover and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Aging doesn’t have to signify a stagnant lifestyle. Within reason, get active. Do you want to live as long as possible? Then begin to clean up your lifestyle in certain areas. For instance:
- Exercise consistently.
- Allow yourself “down” time to relax.
- Follow healthy nutritional guidelines to build a strong body.
- Never, ever skip a meal (unless you are getting your blood work done). Refuse to overeat. Enjoy food, and add good things to your diet: Raw fruits, vegetables, healthy protein, and do a vegetarian “day” a couple times a week.
Life is meant to be lived. Wherever our “focus goes, our energy flows,” says Tony Robbins. As you age gracefully you’ll see the payoff with a healthy mindset, a happy heart, and a calm soul. Start now. Apply the strategies to in your life. Your future self will thank you for the good you do today.
Cheers to living long and prospering in all you do!
~Just a thought by Pamela
Roessingh, H. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200910-the-benefits-of-note-taking-by-hand
This post was previously published on Medium.
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