Aging Gracefully…Hmm, let’s make that Gratefully!
I’ve been making a conscious effort to manage my mind, especially when it comes down to self-talk and particularly on anything to do with health and aging. I started getting serious about this after noticing how many women, both younger and older than myself, concern themselves about the reality of getting older with a sense of anxiety and fear of the future.
All of us are aging… but aging doesn’t seem to be identified as a problem until mid life. Women over 40 and beyond are the targets of countless advertisements, products and services marketed as “anti-aging” and we are encouraged to believe that taking steps to slow down or hide the fact that we are aging will make us feel better about ourselves and this “aging problem.” But what if we could feel better by changing our minds, instead of our faces and bodies?
Attending the funeral of a church friend who suddenly passed away helped me to realize that aging is a gift that not all are fortunate enough to receive. It was a wake-up call that jolted me into the realization that I was focusing on the wrong things. The physiological force of aging wasn’t my problem, instead my beliefs and attitude were the problem.
What I’d been noticing and frankly giving a little too much time thinking about was how my physical appearance and abilities had changed over time and the feelings of worry, fear and sadness that these thoughts created. Why was I choosing to think these thoughts when instead I could think about the many things I can still do well or how faithfully my body continues to serve me, decade after decade? I made the decision to adopt an attitude of gratitude!
When I paid attention, my thoughts began to shift as gratitude replaced disappointment. I trained myself to be on the lookout for three things…
Being grateful for each day,
Try to be a little creative every day and
Really pay attention to the blessings in my life.
When I notice myself having a negative thought about my age such as “I don’t know if I can learn to use (fill in the blank) at this age” or “I’m the oldest person in this room”, I stop, take a deep breath and challenge myself with the following question… “So what?” “What are you making this mean?”
What if I am the oldest person in the room? Is that a negative thing? Maybe it means that I am an inspiration to younger people! It might mean that I am a life long learner. I get to decide. I get to speak life into the circumstance!
We’re all getting older and how we decide to think about this reality makes all the difference between feeling lucky and blessed to still be standing upright or sad that things have changed over time.
I encourage you to challenge yourself to spend one week, just 7 days, to intentionally think of aging as a gift! Look for the positives! Give in to what you cannot do any longer but otherwise, let-it-go! Changing our minds requires both a decision and practice. Aging gratefully is a choice.
Consider the following points:
The more focused you become on enriching the lives of others, the more sense of purpose you’ll have!
The more you begin to explore new interests, the more engaged in life you’ll become!
The more you begin to tackle long-postponed projects, the more empowered you’ll feel!
Just these few ideas put into practice will result in a heightened enthusiasm for life!
The more energized and optimistic you feel, the more you’ll be moved to express your gratitude to God!
Thank Him for the wonderful life you’ve been given!
A spirit of gratitude will help determine whether you grow old gracefully-or just grow old!