Aging mindfully and gracefully involves embracing the law of impermanence. Each thought, emotion, and sensation can be a portal to all kinds of new discoveries.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Kelly Sikkema
It’s funny the experiences we store in our memories.
One that stands out for me is getting my first-grade report card from Mrs. Gray. I received an “E” in work habits with the comment Barry is a nice boy but he needs to pay closer attention. Distractability seemed to follow me and other students—mostly boys—throughout grade school, until I applied to my dad’s alma mater, Central High School. I distinctly remember buckling down to be eventually accepted, which made my dad very proud.
At that time in my life, I realized being mindful and focused was a source of accomplishing the things I desired. What has been your experience of the passage of time?
To what degree have you embraced the law of impermanence over the years? How is the aging process and your mindfulness efforts opening new portals of discovery?
“The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.”
—Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine
Image from Unsplash by Esther Ann
Regardless of your age, how do you stay young at heart?
The other day I was feeling my age and didn’t like it very much.
I’m reading Arthur Brooks new book From Strength to Strength, and I’ve reached the chapters where he describes the overwhelming evidence of how we decline from our peak capabilities far sooner than we care to admit.
Putting our heads down and striving even harder is usually not the answer and often compounds our frustrations.
There is considerable evidence that life satisfaction for many people tends to increase once they shift their attention from personal success to a life of significance where they pour their skills and wisdom into others.
Doing this type of work as a coach for many years keeps my moments of astonishment coming and, on most days, puts pep in my steps.
What are the activities that astonish you with excitement and wonder?
How and where can you engage in more of these to remain forever young?
“I don’t know how to act my age. I’ve never been this age before.”
According to numerous sources, I qualify as a senior citizen having reached my 65th birthday today. I now have a brand-new Medicare card, and with big data advertisers knowing more about me than me, I have been inundated with all forms of products and services for someone my age.
It’s nice when people complement you with phrases like, You don’t look a day over___, and praise your walking pace and relative agility playing ping pong.
It is all a bit confusing and strange looking into the mirror when I shave.
Luckily, I had a great role model in my dad who lived a remarkable 94 years. Some primary lessons he offered through his example included, keeping a positive and playful attitude, exercise, eat in moderation, use your brain to keep your marbles, and take naps whenever you wish.
I’m also fortunate to now live near of my grandchildren who set a great example of youthful exuberance, playfulness and wonder.
Regardless of your age, make a conscious effort to act anyway you wish today to celebrate with me. Having a broader repertoire of age options from your own life as well as others will hopefully add more spice to your life.
“Older now, you find holiness in anything that continues.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, American Poet
Image from Alaska native news
Gary Muehlberger, who recently passed, was a featured character in the National Geographic show Port Protection. Well into his 70s, this white-haired, no-nonsense man looked a bit like a skinny Santa. He lived in an Alaskan community of people who live life on their own terms, hunting, fishing, and gathering many of the resources they need from the land and sea.
Gary was a jack of many trades. He owned a fishing boat build in 1919 which he used for catching salmon. This bucket-of-bolts required frequent attention and repairs by himself and other handy folks in his community, but kept chugging along and fed him for many years, body and soul.
What have you noticed about the aging process in yourself and others these past few years?
How have you come to more fully acknowledge and appreciate the resilience and enduring qualities within yourself and your communities?
“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit would never grow old.”
—James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States
Image from Unsplash by Pelayo Arbués
How old are you? How old do you feel? When you look in the mirror how many more wrinkles do you see compared to last year? What strategies do you use to slow down the hourglass of time?
Looking for the fountain of youth is a preoccupation for many, and potions, lotions, superfood strategies, exercise machines, and cosmetic surgery are very big business.
Books such as Younger Next Year and Real Age even promise the 44 scientific strategies to be up to 25 years younger biologically than you are chronologically.
This past year, I’ve noticed a significant shift in many people toward discovering and nurturing the inner beauty and spirit that, when exercised, remains ever youthful.
Have a conversation with folks that wear a few more wrinkles and have a bit more pep in their step than you. Inquire into the strategies they recommend to remain young at heart and bright in spirit.
“Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”
–Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, 20th Century Polish Aphorist and Poet
Image from Unsplash by Sven Mieke
Among my top priorities is my daily video chat with my 93-year-old father. Marvin lives in an assisted living facility in Florida.
Over the past few months, the residents have been quarantined to their rooms, with very limited interactions except for meal and medication deliveries.
Who are the seniors and super-seniors in your life? How and in what way can you honor and experience the work of art they are?
Please consider replying to this post regarding how you and your families celebrate this beauty.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
—Franz Kafka, 20th Century German-speaking Bohemian novelist
Image from Unsplash by Mitchell Maglio
The phrase Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder can only take us so far in life. Given the increasing pace of our lives, many of us struggle with even taking the time to perceive and fully appreciate the beauty around and within our world.
Considering beauty as a fountain of youth may cause all of us to take a far more comprehensive look at this skill, much like our current efforts to eat better, exercise more, and get the rest we need to be our best, for ourselves and those we love.
Where and in what ways can and will you more fully experience and delight in all the miraculous beauty around and within you?
Hopefully, just the anticipation of doing so will put a lot more youthful pep in your step!
FRIDAY REVIEW: AGE
What are your attitudes and beliefs about age? Here are a few age-related posts you may have missed. Click the link to read the full message.
“We are always the same age inside.”
“You Can Change at Any Age.”
“Youth is eternal to those with a curious, loving, joyous spirit.”
“True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain, but being moved to help relieve it.”
—Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence Author
Image from Unsplash by Piliippe Leone
When I visit my 92-year-old dad in his assisted living community, he often says, Getting old is not for sissies! Before moving into this community, he lived with my mom in a senior community with about 15,000 other residents, living as happily and fully as possible.
As someone who tries to be mindful and observant of my surroundings, it is easy to see the various levels of physical and emotional pain most people experience. To my delight, I also observe tremendous compassion within these communities. It is common to see how the majority of the people do their best to help each other.
These efforts give them purpose and at least temporarily take their focus off of their own troubles.
Where are you currently moved to help relieve the pain others may be experiencing in your world? What one action can and will you take today to demonstrate a higher level of compassion?
Consider reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande to explore aging and how we can better support one another through this process.