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Why I am happy and fulfilled at 79

 Whether we are 20, 50, 80, or any other age, we are all aging. And aging has its challenges, of course. But despite the stereotypes that surround this aspect of our lives I see a sea change at work. More and more people all around the world are discovering there is greater promise and potential to aging than they perhaps realized.

Here are some suggestions for happy, fulfilling aging that work for me. I’d love it if you have some ideas and suggestions of your own you’d like to add so I can do a follow-up later.

The power of persistence

My first suggestion has to do with staying engaged and being persistent (when that is appropriate, of course). Here’s an example. I sat down to work on my blog the other day and a thought came up, “Are you sure you really want to do this? You’ve been putting a lot of energy into this blog for the past two or three years — but perhaps you could find other ways to be useful or you could simply sit back and take it easy.”

I thought about this input from my own thought sphere, but only for a moment. I remembered a project I’ve had in mind for my blog and got busy on it. And as soon as I got busy in this way, everything changed. I was happy. I was being creative. I was engaged with life. So here are my suggestions.

1. Stay engaged

One of the reasons I love blogging is that it makes it possible for me to stay engaged with myself and my world. It brings balance. It keeps me thinking. It keeps me feeling. It makes it possible to find new friends. It brings both joy and disappointment — but though it is a challenge at times, perhaps even a pain, it’s also an extraordinary adventure that helps me to stay young.

2. Keep love flowing.

There is a lot being written these days about how to stay young and happy as we age, but the most important secret of all is a very simple one. It is to keep love flowing through us no matter what our age may be. Because it is through love that we reach deeper and deeper to the eternal essence at the core of existence.

Browsing the web the other day I came across a beautiful poem at Ashton Applewhite’s blog. It’s a cool blog on aging and ageism. The poem by May Sarton, entitled ‘Lighter with Age,” was written in 1978 when Sarton was 66. Here’s a quote from the poem.

“If the whole of life is a journey toward old age, then I believe it is also a journey towards love. And love may be as intense in old age as if it was in youth, only it is different, set in a wider arc, and the more precious because the time we have to enjoy it is bound to be brief.”

Though our physical forms may diminish with time, the curious truth is that our experience of love – our own essential nature – can actually increase.

No matter what is going on or not going on with us physically, we have the choice in every moment to love our life and our world, to love other people, and Nature, and those who are dear to us.

3. Stay active physically

 It is wonderful to see the changes going on regarding attitudes to physical exercise as we age.  No longer are we condemned to early decrepitude. It seems like not a day goes by without some new research showing the crucial part that exercise can play in helping us stay fit and active at any age.

I know that for myself resistance training three times a week with some aerobics in between and a daily walk is critical to keeping a buoyant spirit and attitude.

4. Walking protects the brain

 One of the biggest fears of aging, of course, is the fear we will decline not only physically, but also mentally. But again, there’s a lot of very encouraging research out there that says it is very possible not only to stay physically fit as we age, but also to age with a clear mind.

Just the other day I read a fascinating article from the American Academy of Neurology entitled “Walking a mile a day protects brain from effects of aging.”

Commenting on his recent study, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Kirk Erickson, said: “As we search for a ‘magic intervention’ to protect our brains from the effects of aging, we may find that this ‘magic’ will come not in the form of a pill, but rather in the form of a brisk walk several days a week. So, I would recommend physicians to prescribe moderate amounts of physical activity that is about what 1 mile of walking per day — to improve brain function, reduce brain atrophy, and decrease the risk for cognitive impairment.”

5. Keep an open mind

Two roads lie before us as we age. We can keep an open mind and heart, inviting change, wonder, spontaneity, and the uncertainty of the unknown. Or we can close down and decide we already know all we need to know. “Being open-minded is going to be vital for Baby Boomers to thrive,” said Jay Firman, president of the National Council on Aging, just recently.

As I mentioned, I’d love to hear any thoughts you may like to share. Also, if you know someone who would benefit from this email, please forward it to them. Thank you so much.

Picture credit: primuscare

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