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Joy likes to surprise you


One of the most valuable lessons life can teach as years pass by is to be alert to the simple joys of life that can slip by unnoticed if we are too busy or preoccupied with external concerns or responsibilities.

Joy likes to surprise you. I thought of this the other morning when our neighbor, Janet, came over to visit JoAnn and me with her 16-month-old little boy, Maxwell, who doesn’t speak too much yet.

The whole universe was in a little child's eyes

After cruising around the house a bit, checking things out like the good little supervisor he is, Maxwell decided it was time to check me out. He came over and stood beside me, looking at me intently, and I had a sudden notion to pick him up and hold him in my lap.

His mom smiled and nodded so I picked up this quiet, very curious, strong faced little child and sat him on my lap. He sat there for quite a while, just looking at me, and I felt like I could see the whole universe in his eyes. JoAnn told me later he had a look of complete bliss on his face.

“He never does that," said his Mom, amazed. "He never sits quietly like that."

He even shared his chocolate chip cookie

Finally Maxwell, who had a chocolate chip cookie he was working on, held it out to me so I could have a bite too. I pretended to nibble away at it like a mouse, which brought a big grin to his face.

And then he went even further -- he held out his sippycup toward me.

You can be joyful at any age

Fortunately, joy is eternal -- something we can know and experience at any age.

As I've mentioned before, I'm getting ready to launch a course on the true promise and potential of aging -- which I believe relates very much to the joy that is inherent in our being.

The course is entitled, “How to look (and feel) 10 years younger in four weeks."

While aging brings a lot of anxiety and challenges, obviously, I've written this course to offer joy, hope, and practical advice to people who may be a bit depressed about the idea of getting older, or anxious about the changes going on in their body -- or who perhaps have regrets about their life.

I'll be 79 in May. I seek to assure anyone who takes this course that it is possible to lead a meaningful, happy and fulfilling life at any age. And I seek to share the deepening gratitude I feel for aging -- something I didn't think about much until I realized one day it was actually happening to me :).

Here is what I find so beautiful, fulfilling and also, of course, sad about aging. You realize your life in the outer sense will slip away before too long. But you also have the opportunity to realize that only your physical form is aging -- the unconquerable, joyful spirit that you truly are is not aging at all.

The unconquerable spirit never dies

I love some words that a fellow blogger, Rob White, sent me recently on this:

“As I age toward my late 60's I have experienced that indeed, the truth within does not age but rather comes through clearer and clearer. I take solace in knowing that the unconquerable spirit will never die. I've come to realize it is my job to express my spirit as fully as possible while I am here and leave behind a conversation that will live on.”

What about you? What are your thoughts or experiences related to aging? Please join in the conversation. I'd love to hear from you.

Also, if you're feeling stressed and troubled by all the craziness in the world these days, and looking for a bit of peace, please check out my free e-book, The Wisdom of Serenity, if you haven't already done so.

My love and blessings to you, and if you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends.

Picture credit:

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4115/4932610238_db7c5c5683.jpg

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) March 22, 2011 at 10:21 am

What a beautiful post, Chris, and how important to address this topic that affects all of us.

I love Rob’s comment about the truth within getting clearer with age and knowing the spirit that cannot die. That is my experience also. It’s only the body that ages, and our minds that resist. But the undeniable truth of who we are is eternal.

It’s so great to see your light shining so brightly…
Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) recently posted..Take the Leap and Arc Over Into Freedom

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Christopher Foster March 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

Gail, I appreciate your kind words immensely. We all need a bit of support and encouragement in this world don’t we, and you are very generous in this regard. Thankyou so much. Back at you, as Obama would say. I love seeing the light shining so brightly in you. Stay strong.

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Tess The Bold Life March 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Christopher,
You know that book by Dr. Seuss, “Green Eggs and Ham?” I do not like green eggs and ham?

Do you like
growing older?
I do not like it,
Tess-I-am.
I do not like
growing older.

Would you like it
Here or there?

I would not like it
here or there.
I would not like it
anywhere.
I do not like
growing older.
I do not like it,
Tess-I-am
Is there hope for me?
Tess The Bold Life recently posted..Simplify Your Family Life- 30 eBooks

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Christopher Foster March 23, 2011 at 9:46 am

Tess, thank you so much for this. The poem is utterly delightful. But look. I never realized there’s this streak of mischief in you isn’t there? I mean, I knew you were intelligent, charming, bold, good-looking etc etc but now I see there’s a bit of mischief in the mix too. (I’m very perceptive, I can tell right away coz it reminds me of my wife).

I hope very much there is hope for you Tess despite these obviously bad thoughts because I like you and it means there’s hope for me too then.

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Sandra / Always Well Within March 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Christopher,

I love your zest for life and dedication to living in tune with your true nature.

This touched me immensely, “And I seek to share the deepening gratitude I feel for aging — something I didn’t think about much until I realized one day it was actually happening to me.” I aspire, more and more, to get in touch with the part of me that never dies and to vanquish anxiety in a splash.

Beautiful topic, thank you.
Sandra / Always Well Within recently posted..Wow Your iPad Readers

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Christopher Foster March 24, 2011 at 10:17 am

Sandra, such a pleasure to hear from you, as always. Your words are beautiful. This invisible, indescribable source within us all of which you speak — how it loves the heart that turns to it in uttermost love. What I marvel at is it only takes a moment to be still and sense that eternal presence that is with us in every moment, and that is us — You.

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Phil Malmstrom March 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm

What a heartening story of your visit with little Maxwell this was!

Children, especially at that “wonder age” are so full of innocent exuberance and fascination for everything around them, you can’t help but get caught up in their experience. I know that over the years, I’ve certainly seen God in my children’s eyes more than once. 🙂

And as for our unconquerable spirit, it truly is ageless. We’ve been Blessed by our Creator with an “energy” that if we become in tune with it (and by definition, with Him), can provide endless opportunities for growth and fulfillment. Thank you for continuing to remind us all of that essential connection.

Have a Blessed Day Christopher!
Phil Malmstrom recently posted..Young Minds Want to Know

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Christopher Foster March 24, 2011 at 10:10 am

Beautiful words Phil, as always. Thankyou for them, and for the spirit you share so freely with your world. Have a blessed day too.

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The Vizier March 24, 2011 at 5:01 am

Hi Christopher,

That is a lovely story about Maxwell. We can learn so much just by observing children as they explore the world through their innocent eyes. Everything seems fresh and exciting to them. It is true that joy is eternal and something we can know and experience at any age. To do so, we just need to remember to watch out for the simple joys in life. Observe children, they seem to know this more naturally than adults do.

All of us will grow old so it is wonderful that you are sharing your wisdom on how to cope with aging. As for my thoughts on aging, I have to accept it as a fact of life. I have come to see life as endless change and aging is one of the changes that will happen to us. To resist it is pointless. All we can do is to prepare for and adapt to the changes as they arise.

Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

Irving the Vizier
The Vizier recently posted..Dungeons- Living in the Now Versus Planning Ahead

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Christopher Foster March 24, 2011 at 10:06 am

Hi Irving. Thank you for your words and especially for your support re sharing some thoughts on aging. I don’t think it’s everyone’s favorite topic which is so understandable. But if looking at it or our attitudes about a bit more closely can free us of some of our anxiety — and open new possibilities for a happier life in our awareness — then that’s good, isn’t it?

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rob white March 25, 2011 at 6:17 am

That’s a beautiful little story, Christopher. In that moment you two connected on a higher plane of existence. Outside of age, time, words and signs we are all connected by infinite intelligence. It was a simple beautiful experience of being one with Universal Mind… just awesome. I’m honored that you chose to share my thoughts this week…. blessings

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Christopher Foster March 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Thanks so much Rob. You put it beautfully. There was indeed a touching of something well beyond age, time and words. A base for real friendship don’t you think when we do touch this sense of true communion with another. So happy to feel this potential with you.

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John Sherry March 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

Maxwell IS a joy especially if that’s his picture. It’s so amazing that when we have most given up joy comes flooding in to lift our spirits and uplift our feelings. I have had a tough few weeks and then I read your post about joy that brings me joy. What more need I say Christopher other than bless you and many thanks?
John Sherry recently posted..7 Reasons For Cultivating Relationships Not Craving Connections

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Christopher Foster March 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Thankyou John and bless YOU. The friendship and mutual respect I feel with you is a true joy.
Yeah, Maxwell is a great little kid. Look forward to the next time I can visit with him. Blessings

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Hands Free Mama March 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

This is just beautiful. My parents are 71 and 72 and you have made me think of them with your lovely descriptions on aging. They are joyful now, and always have been. I hope that I can be joyful at any age.

I also draw great comfort from your thoughts about the spirit never dying. I don’t worry so much about my own spirit as I do about the people I love. How lovely it is to imagine my parents’ spirits surrounding me, loving me, and guiding me, even if they are no longer physically present.

Thank you. Your writing is my gift.
Hands Free Mama recently posted..The Steps Toward Home

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Christopher Foster March 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Beautiful words Rachel. I agree with you absolutely. I experience the love and guidance of departed loved ones of which you speak and I think it can be a huge blessing in our lives. So happy to connect with you and my love to your parents.

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Fran Sorin April 2, 2011 at 2:56 am

Dear Christopher,

Thanks to your comment on Mary’s last post, I am visiting your site for the first time. I love it. I identify with your philosophy and experience of growing older. As a baby boomer, it feels like the last 20 years was a flip of a coin. Sometimes, I waked up and think, gee, am I really 57?

But once I do my spiritual work in the morning, get grounded and set my intention for the day, I experience gratefulness and joy for being alive….and for trying to surrender more and more to let my soul shine through. Our physical being is just a cover for what’s underneath…our soul…and that is eternal…

It is great to connect with a like minded soul. I look forward to reading more of your pearls of wisdom. Warmly, Fran

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Christopher Foster April 10, 2011 at 11:34 am

Fran, I don’t know how it happened, but I just realized I never responded to your absolutely touching and beautiful comment. It really did resonate with me but it must have gotten covered over with the minutiae of existence (and blogging).

I love most of all your clear love for “what’s underneath,” — the truth of our existence, our eternal soul, as you say. Your words are inspiring and empowering and I am so happy to have connected with you.

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