If you learn to enjoy the aging process you should have little fear of becoming older. Getting old doesn’t mean having to live with illness or disability. It’s possible to remain youthful at any age. Plus, it is never to late to start working on becoming the person you always wanted to be as you enjoy the aging process. Each day is a new day and a new step towards personal development. Each new situation is an opportunity to excel – to show the world, “hey, here is what I can do, and still do.”
Here are five keys to enjoy the human aging process -1) staying healthy, 2) living with purpose, 3) applying the experience, skills, and knowledge that uniquely come with becoming older, 4) be a lifelong learner, and 5) learning to use death as the ultimate motivator.
Staying Healthy and the Aging Process
We used to think that the our genetics primarily determined how well and how long we lived. We now know, however, that about 75% of how well we age is determined by our life-style with genetics and environment making up the other 25%. So you have much more control over your health than you may think. Take advantage of that!
To me life is about tipping the odds in your favor to better achieve or obtain what you want. Do those things that tips the odds in your favor. Here’s what you can do to tip the odds in your favor and gain control of the human aging process. You can control what you eat. You can control whether or not you exercise and are physically active. You control whether you drink or smoke, and use your seatbelt. You control whether you are proactive with your health and engage in preventive health practices. You control your attitude. And, while you cannot always choose your circumstances, you can always choose how you respond to challenging times thereby minimizing stress which contributes to the aging process.
Living with Purpose: Getting the Most from the Aging Process
It’s been my experience in treating patients that having a strong purpose in life oversomes some less than desirable lifestyle habits (not that you shouldn’t change those habits).
Living with purpose doesn’t mean you need to find a cure for cancer. It means being committed to something that is important to you, and that gets you excited every morning. Most likely it is something you would do even if you did not get paid for doing it. Those who live life more passionately seem to enjoy life more.
The concept of retirement isn’t necessarily healthy. One really has to think how they are going to live in retirement. Many lose a sense of purpose and belonging after they say “good-bye” to their co-workers and collect that gold watch for years of service. You should not have to retire to enjoy those things you always wanted to do in your life. It’s important to “smell the roses” along the way. For some retiring means a loss of identity and purpose as they withdraw from society and the workplace. Avoid that trap. Develop an attitude that you will be a lifelong learner and doer. Learn new skills. Acquire new knowledge. Stay involved in your community, and stay in touch and share your experiences with the younger generation.
Which Type of Person are You?
There are three types of people: those who simply get through the day, those who get from the day, and those that make the day. Settling for less than you are capable of becoming is at the root of much unhappiness. Many people want the end result, but either do not fully appreciate how to obtain it, or worse yet, don’t want to work for it. Decide now that you will be a person who will continuously improve and that you will try to make each day a better day and in the process make it better for someone else.
Never settle for less than you are capable of becoming or doing. Many fall into that trap without even realizing it. Avoid as much as possible those who simply get through the day. They are “life suckers”. They will drain you and drag you down to their level. Occasionally you can bring them up to your level, but do not count on it. Associate with the doers, the achievers, those that say “we can and will do better”.
Enjoy the Benefits That Come with Getting Older
There is much wisdom that comes with aging. Putting that wisdom to work means first taking stock of your own experiences, being savvy enough to learn from the experience of others, and being willing to share that wisdom with others.
As we age we are better able to put life’s events in perspective. Our priorities change. We better appreciate the importance of friends and family. We are better able to put our setbacks, disappointments, and personal loss to work by reaching out to others in need.
Life is a journey, a journey filled with good and bad, happiness and sadness, gain and loss, success and failure. Experiencing the negative components gives us a deeper appreciation of the positive components. It’s difficult to experience the highs in life if you live life trying to minimize the lows and negatives. Don’t be afraid of failure or rejection. Learn from those unwanted outcomes. Anything of value worth pursuing involves some risk – and taking risks means you are going to lose from time to time.
So enjoy the benefits of aging by embracing all that life has to offer – good and bad.
There are so many things to learn and so little time to learn them. Learning keeps us engaged with life. It gives us some reason to keep on keeping on. Plus, it may be the best way to protect and improve brain function. The brain is not static. It is plastic. You can develop new neural connections throughout the aging process. Having an abundance of neural connections provides you with some degree of brain reserve. Having plenty of neural connections is like a road system that provides many ways to get to the same destination. That protects our memory and cognitive function.
Learn a new language. Take up a musical instrument. Lean to cook a foreign cuisine. Get a hobby. Try to paint or sculpt or something else that is artistic. Do things that activate your entire brain. Challenge that part of your brain that may have been overlooked during your working years.
Learning can be physical, too. Use your opposite hand to perform you activities of daily living. Take up an activity like ballroom dancing (which also provides for much needed social interaction) or Tai chi.
Just keep learning. Learning makes life more interesting. Ask “why” and “how”. Marvel at the both the simple and complex. Stay curious. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Be appreciative.
Use Death As the Ultimate Motivator
Life is short. If we didn’t die there would be no reason to set goals. After all, if death wasn’t a reality, we would always have tomorrow to accomplish our goals. Recalling something he read when he was 17, Steve Jobs stated in his famous 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech the following, “If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you will most certainly be right.”
Mr. Jobs further went onto say, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They some how already know what you truly want to become…Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help make the big choices in life….. all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure…fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important…. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose….There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Follow your heart and you’ll enjoy your life and the aging process. Find out what you want from life, learn what it takes to achieve it, and then get busy going after it. As Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) from the Shawshank Redemption said, “Get busy living, or get busy dying”.