When we imagine someone languishing in a rocking chair most of us likely conjure up an image of a senior citizen. However, I have to say that the elders I visit as a pet therapy volunteer often show more “oomph” for life than a lot of us youngins do.
I am going to explore some golden age wisdom in this brief article and leave you with two (2) suggestions. Don’t automatically ignore this post just because you are in your 20s. 30s or 40s. Time passes very quickly, and while I am now 53, it often feels like it was only yesterday that I was 25.
Let me tell you, there is nothing like spending a little time with people in their 80s and 90s to help us gain a little perspective. Of course, not all oldsters are happy. Some of them are as miserable as they probably were back in the day. But the ones I am fortunate to spend time with are generally content. They show up for pet therapy so that says something.
These wonderful people worked hard, raised families, and often survived great hardship. Today, many of them are managing serious health concerns and coping with the regular loss of friends and family to death. These older folks reminisce about the past but they also speak about their plans for the future. Future goals may not involve crazy big dreams but they do involve planning for the things that bring them joy. Joy might be found in an activity, a shared social time with family or friends, or even a special treat. Many of them are concerned with making their last years meaningful.
The ones who are happiest likely exhibited personalities of resilience and openness at an early age. You may remember that in the blog article “Are you still like the 16-year-old you?” I suggested that there is a pretty good chance that who we were at 16 will be amplified by the passing of years. However, I also stated that we do not need to buy into the notion that our personality is set in stone.
Beyond innate tendencies, the world around us plays a huge role in how we come to see ourselves.
But we do have a choice in terms of our worldviews and the habits we develop. Seeing our personality as malleable allows us to begin choosing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are consistent with what we want to create for ourselves in the time we have left. Deciding to have more “oomph” in our lives must be seen as a choice.
It seems to me that the happiest seniors have chosen to be in control of their thinking. How do you go through war, lose loved ones, go bankrupt, learn to cope with a failing body, and yet still manage to find beauty and purpose in today? This is a chosen mindset. And today I am choosing to call this mindset “oomph.”
Stay active, move your body, continue to learn, be curious, ask questions, care about the state of your relationships, invest in your physical health, and spend time doing things that bring you joy.
This seems to be such a simple recipe for a good life and yet too many of us sleepwalk through our days, allowing the internal robot and past programming to wreak havoc. So many people languish under the heavy burden of anxiety, depression, anger, and addictions because:
This type of thinking drains our “oomph” and puts us in a victim position. We need to face the reality that life does pass by so very quickly. The happiest seniors value the time they have left and we should too. If we are languishing in the rocking chair of life, we need to make some changes.
To have more “oomph” we need to move our bodies (yes, I already said this earlier), listen to music, enjoy delicious healthy food, spent time with people who care about and support us, get outside and feel the air on our skin, and celebrate the fact that we still have time to:
Here are the two (2)suggestions I promised:
1. Spend 9:50 mins listening to "Stress-one day at a time & dirty feet." If you prefer, you can read the post.
2. Spend 17:21 mins listening to "A better eulogy with start, stop, and continue." Again, if you prefer, you can read the post.
Terri Lee Cooper MSc. RSW