Aging Happily

Do you associate aging with pain/discomfort and a loss of mobility? I hear lots of comments like “my ____ hurts all the time but, let’s face it, I’m getting old,” or “Growing older is hell!” (Or, “not for sissies!”)

But does it have to be that way? Certainly our tissues do deteriorate as we age—they’re just not made to last forever. But what if we changed the way we THINK about aging—could it help us hurt less and move better?

Clinical psychologist and cultural anthropologist Mary Pipher says yes! In fact, she says, it is possible to age with joy. Here are 5 ways she recommends for beginning to shift our thinking and cultivate happiness:

  1. Accentuate the positive. Attitude is almost everything, and we can control how we react to the hand we’ve been dealt. Pipher says a good support network is critical—friends and family are like an emotional health insurance policy. Whether you have a book club, travel buddies, lunch group, or time with grandchildren, reaching out and spending time with people close to us can help us cope with challenges.
  2. Take action. Sometimes people with a terminal diagnosis are the ones most committed to living life to the fullest. Sometimes surviving something difficult makes us that much more resilient. Pipher states, “Part of what allows us to deeply appreciate our lives and savor our time is our past despair.” Finding purpose in our lives is beneficial, like volunteering or becoming an activist. But, it’s important to be realistic. “Our goals can be greater than our energy level,” Pipher acknowledges, and we shouldn’t let them become a burden.
  3. Reframe your story. We can get stuck re-telling tales of woe: difficult surgeries or illnesses, loss of loved ones, children moving away or relatives becoming distant. Rather than focusing on pain, tragedy and loss, Pipher says we can “train ourselves to think in stories that allow us to flourish.” Rather than rehashing the challenges, we can reflect on what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown from the experiences.
  4. Make peace with death. Pipher refers to a “death positive movement” which includes making hospice more accessible, and speaking more honestly to the dying about what is happening to them. The more prepared and informed we are, the better equipped we feel to deal with reality. Fear doesn’t help! Like dealing with a bad storm or other challenges, when faced with death and loss “often we discover surprising reserves of strength and courage,” Pipher writes.
  5. Be kind to yourself. We need to be true to ourselves, say no when we need to, and say yes to our own needs. With age comes the wisdom of self-awareness, and we can embrace being more authentic. “As we age, we gain perspective,” says Pipher, “hopefully a forgiving one of ourselves.” We can appreciate who we are, decide what we really desire and go for it!” We can also choose to help others let their light shine.

I learned that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, they believe that everything starts with an idea. We put energy toward the idea, and manifest it into reality. If you think you are hurting and stiff and there’s nothing you can do about it because it is simply a part of aging, you will probably continue to hurt and feel stiff. But, if you can work on coping skills—focusing on the positives like wisdom/perspective and your support network—and enjoy whatever activities are still realistic for you, you will very likely be motivated to move a little more, and you will hurt a little less. 

“And while we are reframing our own stories, we can also reframe the story of aging that society enforces and that minimizes everyone of a certain age.”

Source: https://considerable.com/5-things-to-be-happier-as-you-age/

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth Posted on April 24, 2019

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