“I want to stay relevant” — that’s one of the comments I heard from participants of my survey on how people feel about aging. That, or they “didn’t want to feel irrelevant”.
That’s a valid feeling: everyone wants to feel relevant, I believe. Here’s what it takes to stay relevant: maybe you’ll find some pointers that will help you. Maybe you’ll have some other ideas to share in the comments section.
Don’t dis modern culture.
Accepting culture and life changes is important in staying current and relevant. Criticizing current times shows a lack of interest or ability in changing and growing. Why should anyone show you respect when you don’t show respect to modern times — which is to say, the times <i>they</i> are living in?!
That doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t appreciate other cultural times. Value comes from those times. I love going to Renaissance Festivals! Visiting the Titanic Museum gave me insights and perspectives about days gone by. Touring Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon was fascinating and gave me appreciation for what I have and how easy life is for us today.
If modern culture is so bad, do you have suggestions of how to improve it? Are you acting on those suggestions and trying to get others to adapt to your ideas? Or, are you just complaining and bemoaning days gone by? No one wants to hear that. Really: no one. Try dropping your judgment and give “today” a try. Maybe you’ll find value and something to improve your life.
Maybe “exercise” is a bad word to you. How do you feel about “move”? That’s the best way to exercise. Pick your own style and do it. The idea is to keep your body flexible and healthy. When you move frequently, you are pumping your blood around your body, feeding your various body parts with nutrients and oxygen, and removing the waste products and carbon dioxide that happen with living. Just taking a long walk after dinner is huge, especially if you would normally sit down in front of the TV or, worse, Facebook.
Move to build flexibility. Move to increase strength. Move to improve your range of motion. Move to help your heart and brain. Every part of you is healthier when you “move” — or exercise.
Walk. Stretch. Bend. Lift. Carry heavy stuff. You’ll feel better for it in so many ways. And what a role model you’ll be!
Community is vital to being relevant. If the COVID taught us nothing else, it taught us that we need social contact and nature to stay healthy and mentally strong. Get out. Get out of the house. Get out of the office. Be with people. Interact with people. Fresh air and sunshine are good for you.
Even if you are an introvert, get out. Not interacting with others reduces your social skills. That reduces your mental health. Be engaged.
Stay quiet about your health challenges.
When you voice an ache or a pain, you make it real. And you are bringing those around you down. Keep bad news to yourself, unless it’s a report to a loved one, someone who’s helping take care of you.
When you feel an ache or a pain, that’s notice from your body that you need to pay attention to that body part. Your tooth hurts? Visit the dentist. Dental infections travel to the rest of your body quickly, and that’s bad news.
Your backaches? Visit a doctor who will send you to a physical therapist or assign you exercises to do to stretch your back and body out. In the “old days” they would suggest bed rest for back pain, but that made it worse. You know what the number one recommended exercise is to prevent and reduce back pain? Walking more.
Your friends can’t help your aches and pains, but research on your part can help you help your own aches and pains. Don’t burden them with your problems. Take care of them and focus on happy and positive topics. You’ll feel better too!
Technology changes — everything. When I was preparing for my first Camino, numerous friends urged me to buy a new backpack. I didn’t see why I should abandon a perfectly good backpack…until I tried on a new one. Technology has improved backpacks. My back was happy for my decision to upgrade my pack.
I also wore clothes of modern technology that were designed to cool the human wearing them. On hot Camino days, I was grateful I had a good t-shirt on. And my lightweight, water repellent jacket was a blessing too. It kept me warm on blustery days and dry on wet days.
Everything evolves. I may not like all modern music, thinking some of it isn’t actually music (wink), but I do love some modern music. That was true when I was a kid, too.
I also don’t like all the modern cars, but I love watching them evolve. My mother proudly nursed her original dishwasher and refrigerator for something like 30 years. The energy savings she would have had from upgrading those appliances would have made a dent in the purchase cost. (Or maybe even have paid for them several times over!) The kitchen would have been quieter, too.
Upgrade everything: attitudes, wardrobe, technology, hairstyle, music, toys, gadgets — everything, in its time.
Being relevant keeps you engaged in life and that keeps you growing and learning, which keeps you relevant.