Finding Joy In Aging
Aging has its perks. Free from schedules, there deadlines, viagra pressures and priorities that others impose, we finally have time to do what we want. But aging also has its challenges. The very perks Boomers dream about when they think of retirement can create significant challenges at retirement. Unlimited free time and lack of schedules can be anxiety filled and have negative psychological effects for those who have no hobbies or are not connected to communities where they can volunteer or participate in activities. Too much free time is the enemy of aging. “Old age is not for sissies”, says Betty Davis. She’s right. With an average life span of 20-35 years in retirement, it seems we’d be smart to take a little time to figure out how to enjoy this significant chunk of life; ideally before we retire.
The philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” By living forward with zest and jubilación, we create a life of joy. No need to brood over the fact that we are getting older and that this is the beginning of the end. I love how Spanish cultures refer to retirement as jubilación, as a time of celebration and exuberance, not a decline. This time of life, more than any other, requires a reframing of old beliefs, the willingness to challenge old assumptions and that we build resilience for change. Aging is all about change. Physical changes occur, unless we keep our bodies in good health, both physical and emotional. Intellectual changes occur, often through memory loss, unless we continue to learn and build new neural pathways. Our needs of social interaction deepen in aging as we realize the incredible gifts that family and friends give us every day we spend with them. Spiritual changes occur as we deepen our understanding of the values and beliefs that are important to us; and challenge ourselves to consider spirituality in broader terms than the framework of only one religious ideology.
This is the perfect time to take a serious look at the transformative powers of reaching for one’s potential. The only barrier stopping you from taking charge and living life on your own terms is that inner voice of fear that keeps insisting we’re too old for this or that. Instead of focussing on all the things you can no longer do, use that inner voice to change the tape, to refocus your thoughts on the positive aspects of aging. Don’t let pharmaceutical companies; governments; and the media sway you with their narrow thinking about aging. Practice gratitude for all that is good in your life, in your community and around the world. Bring awareness to what’s important in your life.
The joy of aging is amplified when you take time to reflect on all you’ve accomplished and identify the unfinished business in your life. It may require you to bury old grudges and put some distance behind some of the hurts in your life; but it will be well worth it. You will find a fresh new outlook as you imagine what’s possible at this time in your life and adopt a new perspective that is supported by all the positivity you can find. You will also find renewed energy. Gandhi tells us to “Live as if there is no tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever.” There is great wisdom in this quote. It challenges us all to decide if we’re going to thrive or simply strive. The choice is ours to make. Take a look at your relationships, your health, the work you do (paid or unpaid) and the joy you get from leisurely activities at home and in your community. Then start building a list of all that’s possible, based on the dreams and passions you now have time to pursue.
If you take a few moments to consider all that is great right now, and consciously remove as much of the negativity as possible from your life, you will find joy in aging. And if the task seems too overwhelming, consider working with a retirement coach. It will be well worth the small investment you’ll have to make. There is not time to waste. You have so much to share with your loved ones from the playbook of wisdom and memories you’ve created. Now that’s a legacy worth sharing and a joy to celebrate.