Have you heard the term “conscious eldering”? It’s all about the choices we make as we grow older…will we stay engaged, curious, and positive about life, or will we become hard, withdrawn, and resentful over our disappointments?
I’m sure you’ve known people who fall into both categories. Over the years I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over 50, some close to 100, and it truly seems it’s a matter of making up your mind to be one or the other. Barring extreme physical limitations, many people I’ve known who are on the negative side have simply decided it’s easier to be angry.
The relationship that didn’t work out.
The boss that never saw our brilliance.
The ungrateful child who grew up uninterested in being around us.
The fact that we were supposed to end up one way, and we didn’t.
Then there are the people I’ve talked to who bubble over with joy and vitality. They laugh easily and accept what life has thrown at them. And it’s not always been an easy road…some have lost a spouse, child, way of life, and even their health. They’ve had to move and give up prized possessions. Yet through it all, their attitude is one of acceptance and peace.
Maybe it’s a matter of being “conscious” about what we do when we come to those crossroads…is this tragedy going to break us, or bring us closer to our spiritual core? Will it humble us, or infuriate us?
I think having a spiritual foundation in whatever form you choose is a huge help. I also think that truly learning to let go, to be willing to heal old wounds and forget long-held grudges, goes a long way for easing our hearts and our minds. Just think how much energy we wasted being miffed about the past.
Life’s a zigzag, not a straight line. At least it is for me. Being over 50 makes a lot of things clearer, yet it’s still a mixed bag sometimes. But I do look around at other boomers and those in their 70s, 80s, and up and it seems that it’s never too late to change your attitude.
It may not be easy, but it’s not too late.
Maybe showing affection has always been a little hard for you because your parents never did it well, but now that you have grandchildren or great-grandchildren, you want to hug and hold hands and let them know how much you care.
And maybe all the things that always vexed you…waiting in line, bad drivers, people who are always late…now simply can be better tolerated by taking a breath, letting it go and realizing it’s not a personal conspiracy against you.
I don’t know about you, but I want to age with curiosity. Joy. Creativity. I want to feed my intellect and my spirit as much as I can, and not get my blood pressure up by rehashing old wounds or wondering why things aren’t like they used to be.
I genuinely believe this can be the absolute best time of our lives. Because even when the seemingly overwhelming challenges come at us, we’re more prepared than ever to use our strengths, ask for help, and turn it over to a higher power.
So why not now…it’s been a long hot summer. What better time to take a new path? Dance a new step? Rock a new wrinkle!!
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”