Can you be old and happy?
I asked this question of a group of seniors this week and, without hesitation, they answered a resounding YES!
No doubt, happiness is a challenge late in life when you’re faced with multiple losses one after another; loss of independence, spouse, friends, home, financial status, health, memory…..
The key to maintaining a sense of happiness as we age is certainly attitude and the ability to adjust to change. The good news is, there are attitudes that you can foster to ensure that you will remain happy as you grow old!
Five Keys to happiness and aging…
Acceptance: One thing that’s universal about aging is that your life will change in one way or the other. If we can’t accept these changes, we are destined to stay stuck in time and hold on to a world that really doesn’t exist any more. On the other hand, by accepting changes we put ourselves in a position to adjust and reclaim our sense of self and well-being. A sense of self that is based on our values not values dictated by our families, society or the health care system.
Flexibility: Rigid thinking is the cousin to denial and puts us at risk of not accepting help when we need it. Without flexibility, we can become unhappy with the events of our lives and learn to see our world as all gloom and doom. Flexible attitudes put us in the position to “re-invent” ourselves as we age. You’re going to be put in a position time and time again where you’ll need to find common ground. Whether it’s with your family, your retirement facility or your van driver, you are going to need to foster a bit of patience and flexibility or you’ll be miserable trying to control the world around you.
Purpose: There’s a tendency to isolate from society, as we age, and feel we have nothing to contribute. This can lead to a lack of meaning in our lives, which can lead to depression. Cultivate a curiosity about the world around you, find meaning in every day life and stay engaged with the world around you. Make no mistake about it, older adults still have plenty to give and there are life lessons to be taught. Finding meaningful activity and projects that bring us purpose and foster happiness will give us a reason to “get up” and get dressed each day!
Gratitude: Fostering an attitude of gratitude is universally healthy regardless of your age but it becomes particularity important as we age. It’s easy to become down heartened when your life becomes less and less about who you are and more about your disabilities and doctor appointments. By fostering an attitude of gratitude, we will start seeing that our glass is half full versus half empty. You can start fostering this right now by listing 5 things you’re grateful for…
Courage: You’ve probably heard the saying “old age ain’t for sissies” and let me tell you it’s the truth. It takes a huge amount of courage to face the bad news, hold your head high and find the dignity to carry on. The emotional strength it takes to push through the fear and sadness can be critical in forming a sense of happiness late in live. Expressing your fear can lead to a shift in understanding and foster the courage you need to push on and find a new happiness for today.
I was so inspired by the seniors I was with this week as we discussed happiness and aging. Their openness and insight touched my heart and inspired me to cultivate my own attitudes about happiness and aging….
How about you? Do you think about your own happiness and aging? Do you find the above attributes important? Do you have your own ideas about the keys to happiness and aging?
Leave a comment…. I’d love to hear from you!