Your outlook matters a lot when it comes to how you feel as you age.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “age is just a number,” or heard people speak lovingly of the “young at heart.” For many if not most people, getting older is not quite that simple—along with physical changes and challenges, it can also be an emotionally complex process.
Walking a positive path through aging is a worthy pursuit that can bring meaning and wellness to the years ahead. Here are four ways to get on a positive track:
1. Prepare to Navigate Change Positively
Like in other transitional times of life—puberty, for example—aging is a time of great change. Friends retire and move, illness may strike, or living situations may change. Navigating change gracefully means embracing it as an opportunity to grow into a new, meaningful season of life. Seek out support from loved ones or a professional counselor to ground yourself in positivity even in changing times.
2. Cultivate Multi-Generational Friendships
Dr. Gayatri Devi, a New York City-based neurologist who works with older adults, recently told The New York Times she advises patients to seek out friendships with people of different ages. A goal, she said, could be to have a relationship with someone in every decade of life. This has multiple benefits, from helping older adults feel connected to the technology and culture of youth, to the wisdom and perspective elders can bring.
3. Clear Out the Clutter
Older adults tend to have a lot of stuff, accumulated over a lifetime of travels, family life and…gosh, where does all the rest of that stuff come from? Taking the time to clear clutter from your home in a meaningful way—by thinking carefully about what brings pleasure to your days, and what you can peacefully let go of—can be a freeing process. As a bonus, having an organized space reduces the risk of injuries from tripping and falling.
4. Push Back Against Stereotypes
There are too many myths about older adults to count, including that they are chronically cranky or disconnected from the world around them. But the fact is, many studies have revealed older adults, freed of the stresses of raising families and pursuing careers, to be happier and more content than younger people. Let that freedom fuel you to contradict the stereotype of the sedentary older adult—get involved with a community project, physical fitness activity or craft that can keep you learning, engaged and energized for years to come.
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader