By Dave Hughes
While you have some control over the physical aging process with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, the fact that your body ages as you get older is inevitable. However, you have much greater control over your attitude toward aging. Here are 10 steps you can take to cultivate a positive, youthful attitude at any age.
Resurrect youthful passions. You probably have hobbies or interests that you enjoyed when you were younger, but had to put aside when the demands of work and raising a family took over. After you retire, you have the time to enjoy them again or to try new things. Many older people participate in choruses or bands like they did in high school. Others pursue photography, art, writing, crafts or taking adult education classes.
Rid your life of toxic people. You don’t need people in your life who make you feel depressed or bad about yourself. During your working career, you sometimes had to endure the company of co-workers you wouldn’t otherwise choose to be around. Now you have much more choice in who you spend your time with. Your attitude and your enjoyment of life are heavily influenced by those with whom you associate the most, so find people who are interesting and fun to be around.
Stay active. If you’re able, make time in your life for a low-impact sport such as golf, pickleball, biking, swimming or bowling. Strive to take a 30-minute walk several days a week. Join clubs and go on outings that will give you the opportunity to interact with other people and experience new things. Discover the attractions in your own community such as restaurants, parks and museums that you may not have had time for during your working years.
Maintain a positive attitude. There may be some things you can’t do anymore, so focus on those that you can. Look for the humorous things that happen in everyday life. Don’t complain or be resentful. Nobody likes to hang around bitter people. Strive to be kind, gracious and thankful. Although aging is not always easy, remember that it is a privilege that has been denied to some.
Make friends with people of different ages. You might be surprised at how many younger people enjoy the company of older folks. To many people, age is just a number. They are more concerned with your personality, attitude and common interests. Younger people can bring vitality and fresh perspectives to your life. You may serve as a role model or a source of wisdom and stability for them without even realizing it. If you live in an age 55 and older active adult community, don’t isolate yourself and limit your interactions to other seniors. Venture out and enjoy the rest of the community.
Keep up with modern technology. Become more computer-savvy if you need to. Knowing your way around the internet will enable you to research medical issues, make travel plans and explore almost any topic that interests you. Most personal business can be transacted online, and you can find information on almost anything. For many people, electronic tools such as text messaging, Facebook and Instagram have replaced letters and telephone calls as the preferred modes of communication. Even email is declining in popularity. If you hope to stay in touch with younger friends and relatives, you’ll need to use the communication tools they use.
Stay connected with the world. Familiarize yourself with modern culture. While you may not care much for modern music and entertainment trends, you should still have a passing familiarity with what they are. Saturday Night Live is still as funny and relevant as it was in the 70s and 80s. Keep up with current events and get your news from a variety of sources in order to minimize bias and inaccuracies.
Don’t say whatever comes into your head. You have probably encountered older folks who seem to think they have earned the right to spout whatever they want, especially when it comes to judgments or critical opinions. You still need filters and decorum. The cranky curmudgeon act gets old fast. Also, be mindful of repeating the same stories and jokes over and over.
Don’t glorify the past. It’s easy to remember the good times from years past while forgetting about the difficult times you faced. Every decade had its share of corrupt politicians, social injustices, wars and problems. So stop comparing things to when you were younger. Even if the old days were better, those days are gone. Today is what you have now. Make the most of today.
Avoid reciting your health problems. It’s OK to mention recent ailments or upcoming operations briefly, but don’t make them the focus of your entire conversation. Nothing makes you seem older than constantly dwelling on your aches, pains and maladies. People will enjoy conversations with you much more when there are many other topics you are able to talk about.