A couple of people I know, who are ten to twelve years younger than I am, moan about how old they are. That usually makes me roll my eyes. My reaction was a bit different at the most recent such moan: I asked for details, then listened to his story.
Indeed, he’s been through things I haven’t, seen horrors I haven’t, and experienced things I hope to never experience. Yet, I think it’s perspective and language that really divide us or make the difference in how we experience our ages.
As we age, many people start feeling aches and pains. They feel their muscles get weaker. Their mind doesn’t work as well as they want it to. And they talk about it, complain even. I have one friend who jokingly refers to the “organ recital” he and his walking buddy have each morning before they move onto topics of the world. That phrase makes me laugh — and seems so apropos…for most people. People blame those changes on their advancing age.
I’m no different. I get aches and pains. Some muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. My mind isn’t the steel trap it used to be. Yet, it never occurs to me to blame it on age. I attribute the aches and pains to using muscles in ways I haven’t in too long or sitting with bad posture. When I’m in a rush, I don’t allow my mind to access its wealth of information and use it as I need.
What I’ve learned is that I’m not always giving attention and time to staying limber and agile. Maintaining my strength isn’t always a priority. Exercising my brain is something I do tend to, yet I still go too fast to let it process and filter through all its data to answer questions for me.
Attitude and language make up our mindsets and focus our perspectives. Do you see the world negatively and your health as declining? Or do you see the world positively and your health as going strong — or at least strive to see it that way? It truly is up to you as to how you age and how you see the world.
Taking It All In
Research shows that when we find and express gratitude even about challenging or painful situations, we increase our happiness and resilience. I’ll add that when you seek to find the silver lining or gift in those kinds of situations, you also find more happiness and resilience. That’s the perspective I’m talking about.
Approaching life with that attitude gives you a mindset that helps you rise above life’s changes and challenges. That’s what helps you access the best of you.
Did you know that people aged 70-80 are at their most productive years? Their second most productive years are when they are aged 60-70. And you can only fully take advantage of those years when you keep a growth mindset, that attitude that lets you be curious and see the opportunities.
With that mindset, you can take action to slow, reverse, or at least treat, the aches and pains. You can put attention to keeping your muscles strong and limber, regain your nimbleness and flexibility. That same mindset will help you find solutions to slowing down and enjoying all that your mind has to share with you.
Look forward to your coming years rather than dread them. Dreading them puts you in the woe-is-me mindset. Embracing them keeps you in the this-is-exciting mindset. The former drags you down, and may even hasten your death. The latter keeps you up, and almost certainly extends your healthy lifespan.
Do you want to live under a dark cloud with dreary skies? Or, does living under a bright sun with clear skies sound more appealing? Can you feel a difference in your body and soul as you try on those two different approaches? Which one will you choose?