Getting Older and Living Well – 4 Ways To Stay Actively Engaged in Life
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Getting Older and Living Well – 4 Ways To Stay Actively Engaged in Life

It’s hard to even write this number and attach it to myself.  I turned 60 – eeeccckkk!!  I cannot wrap my head around this numerical concept.  And I don’t buy into the old “ it’s only a number” deal.  It’s a number that is steeped in reality – the reality that we’re getting on in the life cycle and heading closer toward an end.  Doesn’t mean an end is near or that I feel even remotely ‘older’.  But the number does signify aging, at least chronologically.

The passage of time is quite the difficult concept.   Somewhere along the way here, I thought of this piece of science:  that as long as the earth continues to revolve around the sun, so time moves on, and with that so do we.  Somehow thinking about this seems to make the inevitable a wee bit more tolerable and brings me some comfort.

I have always been saddened when something great ends.   I often repeat to myself the famous Dr. Seuss line, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”   It doesn’t help me too much though.  I am grateful it happened but still sad that that specific thing is done.   I listened to the Seals and Crofts song, “We may never pass this way again” a lot back when and really took this line to heart.  I guess I was cognizant of these time passages back then too.

I have too much living to do to be thwarted by this.  I think this is how I deal with it: think about it (the fact that it’s scary and sad to me) and then move on, and I cycle myself like this.  It is a good reminder to live well, appreciate each thing and revel in all the greatness there is because there is so much out there.

I recently gave a talk on reinventing oneself post retirement.  My opening statement was that my standing here in front of an audience giving over a 45 minute talk is my reinvention.   Who would’ve ‘thunk’ that the sometimes shy me would take this on, push myself to do it and actually even enjoy it?!!  Yes, it’s anxiety-producing and endorphin-producing; nerve-wracking and exhilarating.

That’s the point – that we are all capable of continuing to climb higher and higher on the rungs of our ladder of potential.   We just have to be willing to push beyond our comfort zone and sweat it out a bit.  But we can continue to climb our own ladders and the exciting possibilities are limitless.

As I mentioned in my talk, there are (at least) four ways of being that can keep us actively engaged in living well as we grow older (which we are all doing from the minute we enter this world) and reaching for that next rung.

Intentionality – Are we living with awareness and being the creators of our life, bringing in what we value, what is meaningful and brings us pleasure, what makes us feel and come alive?  Are we living consciously and on purpose?

Mindset –  Is our mindset one that is open to new things, new experiences?  Carol Dweck, researcher from Stanford University, calls this the growth mindset as opposed to the fixed mindset.  Are we just doing what we’ve always done, believing we can’t do much more, or are we open to new possibilities?

Curiosity –  This attribute helps us keep that spark of excitement and wonder alive.  It keeps us involved, engaged and interested.  It pushes us to explore new ideas, new things.   When we’re curious, the world is our oyster.  (And if we’re not already curious, we can certainly cultivate it by taking more of an interest, asking questions and learning.)

Discard the myth, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” – Holding onto this belief keeps us stuck in our sameness and doesn’t allow for expansion and growth.  We are all capable of learning and growth in some ways.

 

When we take on these things, we live with a vitality.  Life maintains its sense of wonderment and we maintain our engagement in it.  Even when the rough times hit, we can hopefully rebound with new meaning and newly found silver linings to enhance ourselves.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  No matter what age you are, the key is to stay purposefully engaged in your life.  How do you do that? 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Getting Older and Living Well – 4 Ways To Stay Actively Engaged in Life

  1. Kiwwwiiii says:

    I really like your reflection. Even though I am only in my twenties, I am so worn down by medical school that I find all the luster is taken out of life sometimes. I realize that I am not living intentionally and only merely trying to keep my head above through this crazy training. I think you’re right that if I took more responsibility (from your other article), try to feel less victimized (easy to feel when you’re doing your best but still getting yelled and brought down every day), and purposefully spent my free time wisely when I did have it, I would be much happier. Do you have any suggestion on how to handle difficult negative people who yell and you are in the submissive position (aka student) so you can’t reply?

    1. Hi Kiwi,

      The first thing that comes to my mind is that you read Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen – http://www.rachelremen.com/

      The second is that you watch the movie Patch Adams, if you haven’t already (with Robin Williams).
      Difficult, negative people in a ‘superior’ position are tough indeed. It’s a fine line to walk when they ‘seem’ to wield the power. You most certainly can reply when your dignity has been trampled upon. It’s all in the way we respond. A calm, assertive, I-statement manner (no attacking the other) may not change the situation but at least it brings you more self-preservation.
      Medical training is a gruesome process of inhuman hours. That is the nature of the beast as it stands now. Based on this reality, build in some pleasurable things into your life during your little bit of free time. Even small bits of respite can be rejuvenating. Make a ‘love list’ of things you enjoy and start incorporating one or two. Small things can make big differences. You wrote if you “spent my free time wisely when I did have it, I would be much happier.” So start now by doing just that. Take one baby step and do something you enjoy the next time you have some free time. Take that brief walk and enjoy the nature; or take out your drawing pad and sketch something; or listen to the music you love while doing some meditation; or clean out one drawer…..whatever it is. Twenty minutes is better than no minutes.
      Thanks for sharing a bit of your situation.
      Hang in there. You can email me any time – harriet@rebuildlifenow.com

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