You’ve got to get to the stage in life where going for it is more important than winning or losing. ~ Arthur Ashe
In my last blog, I shared some examples of retirees living incredibly active senior lives, their calendars packed with daily events and various adventures scheduled out into distant months. We all know how important it is to keep active mentally and physically, not only to fight against the effects of aging but also to give ourselves the kind of satisfying and fulfilling retirement that we all want. Our retirement days should not be just about getting by – there are exciting things to do and amazing places to be visited with stories to be told and we want to be telling those stories, not merely listening to someone else tales.
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~ William James
It is not always easy for senior citizens to get out there and go for it like we did when we were younger, which is okay and I believe even desirable. We are different people at 70 than we were at 17 – if not, the world would be in serious straights. Imagine for one moment a world of 17-year-old running things and we quickly realize that there is a method to the madness of growing old. Still it would be nice to steal a little of that energy that is so present in teenagers and stick it in our back pocket for a little boost. Short of that, what traits do we need to remain active seniors, grabbing life instead of watching it pass by?
Action is the antidote to despair. ~ Joan Baez
Passion – passion knows no age. Older people are just as passionate – if not more – than their younger counterparts. As long as the heart beats, passion is present. When are you more alive than when you vigorously defend your position or dive head first into something that you really love to do? Our passion can be as unique as our imaginations allow, discovered down the most unlikely alleys we may wander. Don’t fight it, FEED it.
Plans – having activities scheduled helps to keep us in the game. An empty calendar can cause feelings of loneliness and even worthlessness. “No one wants to have anything to do with me.” A busy calendar does not allow time for dark thoughts since you have places to go and people to see. Short term plans such as regular get togethers with friends for bridge, tennis, golf, or a walk keep you active and engaged. And longer term plans – like a trip to France or a week on the coast – keep you anticipating rather than dreading the future.
Persistence – I may not feel like getting out of bed today or I may not be into going on my scheduled walk with Bobby Joe or I may think that I prefer to sit in front of the tube instead of getting outside for some fresh air. But I am not going to give in. Life is meant to be lived not observed. I will persist and I will persevere. And I will live. If you give in, you lose.
Perspective – it is important to know yourself and understand your personal point of view. All of the life you have lived to this point has created your unique perspective on life and living. However rarely is your point of view the same identical point of view shared by others. Knowing this, you may better understand why a friend behaves the way she does when you may have anticipated her behaving differently. Remember to see things as they really are not just as you perceive them to be. The best perspective from which to accurately view the world is no perspective at all.
Presence – looking too far into the future or dwelling on the past prevents you from living and experiencing this moment. If your mind is distracted by some distant situation, you are unaware of what is going on right now under your nose. It will be very challenging to get the most out of your active life with this separation of mind and body. So remember to be aware of your presence here and now.
Perfection – none of us are perfect so don’t struggle or worry or get down on yourself when you make a mistake. The important thing is that we are doing something. If we do nothing, the risk of making a mistake is zero. But our likelihood of experiencing anything worthwhile is also zero. Active seniors take a chance and accept imperfection gladly in exchange for the opportunity to feel, experience, enjoy and live.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
The first step to living an active senior life is to take the first step.
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