As I write this, I’m staring down the chamber of my next birthday.
Who is that “old lady” in the mirror?
Somehow, I never thought it would come to this.
And yet, you could say (and you would be right) … it’s the best option. Between aging and death, I suppose I’ll take aging. But goodness! Couldn’t there be a third option?
Here are some ideas about how to age gracefully, into middle age and beyond:
1) Birthdays will happen. Age will come, if you’re fortunate enough to live long enough. It’s inevitable. Don’t fight it, because that wastes time and energy. Find a way to make it wonderful – it really is a blessing to get older. Revel in the wisdom it gives, in the joy of things only older people have – job security or even retirement, children and grandchildren, time and resources to travel and do other leisurely things …
2) Despite the inevitability of aging, there’s no reason to make it worse than it is. Exercise. Eat right. Strive to help others. Be happy. Use sunscreen. Get medical checkups regularly. Do the healthy things. It’s no use living to 100 but being debilitated.
3) Exercise goes double for your brain. Read. Do puzzles. Engage in lively discussions and even debate.
4) Getting older gives you opportunities to revise your style – to reinvent yourself and to do it often. My best friend recently stopped coloring her hair and commented that, among the other obvious benefits (and detriments) of that, she can now wear colors she never could wear before. She’s enjoying using shades she always scorned, and, even in small ways, changing her look. Even if it’s just no longer wearing business suits (or giving in to casual Fridays), strive to reinvent who you are.
5) Do things you enjoy. Every day. Even if you’re 22, you should strive to do this, but it becomes more and more important the older you get. Life should also be fun!
6) Deepen your friendships. Now more than ever, close ties are important. Obviously family is vital, but friendships can be just as rewarding. Strive to find new friends to add to the old. There’s an old Girl Scout song: “Make new friends/But keep the old/One is silver/And the other gold!” Exactly.
7) Don’t waste time. Enjoy what you enjoy and try to minimize the stuff you don’t. If you don’t know what you like, get to know and love yourself.
8) Try to spread joy. Don’t get stuck in negativity, but try to give happiness to everyone you meet. It’s free, and it makes you feel good, too.
9) Write. Write a blog. A letter. A journal. A book. It keeps your mind sharp and gives you a sense of who you are and what you can contribute to the world.
10) Travel. I’ll devote a whole blog to this later, but this can enrich your life in surprising ways. Even if it’s just to the mall, sometimes adventure is just around the corner.
11) Create milestones, and work toward them. They can be small or huge, but the joy is in striving for something and accomplishing even small steps towards achieving it. Just being on the journey to success is a win.
12) Do not let yourself be diminished by anyone. You have been uniquely created to be … YOU. No one should be able to minimize that. There is only one you. Be that you. No one else gets to define you.
As I read back over my list, it seems like a list of how to live a great life. I suppose there really isn’t a lot of difference between how to age gracefully (if you’re 12 or 80) and how to live the kind of life you’ve always dreamed of and will be proud of.
Something to shoot for by your next birthday.
If you are having trouble with depression, anxiety, grief or distress, whether around this issue or any other, please consider giving us at Sanctuary Christian Counseling a call. We are here for you, and can help with all kinds of aging issues as well as many other things, such as individual and marriage therapy, art therapy, grief therapy, sex and sexual addictions therapy and other types of help. We are invested in helping you live your best life. We can help you get there.
Sanctuary Christian Counseling LLC
9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4
Shippensburg, PA 17257