Let’s talk about aging – no flowery intro, no smooth segue. In a society obsessed with youth, we really need to discuss aging more (since most of us spend much more of our time on this earth aging than being young [not disregarding the importance of nurturing a young heart]). I had a birthday this month, and with it came sentimental (I’m seldom sentimental) memories of the last 20 - 25 years. No, not EVERY one of the last 20 - 25 years, but special moments related to my awareness of age, appearance, life decisions, and wisdom (or the lack thereof. LOL). So, here’s my list of things we should all do to help ourselves along this unavoidable progression of living.
1. Set goals in your 20’s, do your research, and take the best action to achieve those goals. Oh, and please please get some kind of education (college, trade, military, online courses, etc.). Education opens door and gives us options we can’t even imagine without it.
2. Start an exercise regimen including aerobic activity you enjoy.
3. Add weight training (it’s even better with a lover or close friend)
4. Develop healthy eating habits (click here for a foolproof way to find what works best for you.)
5. Develop and maintain healthy friendships and family relationships with wise, progressive people (more on this later)
6. Take stock of your goals, decide which ones are still important to you, and decide what’s next. Again, do your research before taking action.
7. Maintain your exercise regimen and guard your time like a mother bear
8. Reevaluate your eating habits. Sometimes our dietary needs change as we age, so repeat the prescription process from your 20’s.
9. Nurture friendships and healthy family relationships by being a good friend or family member. This is your support circle and these people (and pets) become even more valuable over time. Steer clear of fair weather friends, fowl weather friends, ne’er do wells, and the temporary coat-tail hangers who only want to take. Also, you are grown! You really can avoid family members who try to bring you down and box you in.This is your time to fly. Get rid of any excess baggage.
10. Make sure to take regular vacations and plan at least one day a week to pamper yourself (I know you’re busy, but this is a must). Guard your time like a ninja warrior.
11. Okay, if you laid the groundwork in your 20’s and 30’s, this is the time to play more than you work. Travel, take lessons in something you’ve always wanted to learn about, spend more time enjoying life than working. Really. It’s important. Life is short, and you want to thrive, not just survive.
12. One of the best ways to maintain your exercise regimen is to rev it up with some activities you can include during your vacations. I’d LOVE to visit New Zealand, speaking of revved-up activities.
13. If you haven’t already, this is the time you’ll most likely be called upon to be a good, faithful, supportive friend. The easiest way to support a friend is to do for him/her what you would need done for you. First, actively listen and ask what you can do to help.
14. Spend time with your loved ones. Go out for each other’s birthdays, host and share pot-luck get-togethers regularly, and share your lives.
I can't offer much info about the 50’s yet (I’m still new at this part), but I have learned one thing, and that’s not likely to change - everyone needs at least three things to thrive in life: purpose (something constructive to do), love (someone who cares enough to bear witness to and share our lives), and hope (something positive to look forward to). Focus on these things and aging might just be a bit less painful – in fact, it can be downright enlightening.