Aging is a reality we must all face, but growing old is a choice. After 55 years, a 1957 Chevy can be a vintage machine with a well-maintained engine and body and a classic design that captures the admiration of all who see it in action. Or it can be a rusty bucket of bolts relegated to the scrap heap of history.
The difference between a grumpy old man and a vibrant senior is all in the attitude. We will all have to face the final curtain some day, but there’s no point in marking time in the waiting room to the afterlife while there is plenty of nectar yet to be squeezed from the abundant, living world around us.
There are a few key points to remember if you want to continue to be counted among the very young at heart.
1. Keep it real.
The last few decades of our lives aren’t called the golden years for nothing. They can be the best years of all if we simply accept and embrace the fact that we are getting older.
This is finally “me” time after many years of the rat race that had us working overtime to take care of all of the loved ones who depended on us. You did a good job of getting the kids standing on their own two feet, and now it’s time to turn the page.
Yes, your body is changing. The hair has more than enough silver highlights, and the smile lines and furrowed brow don’t go away when you stop smiling and lower your eyebrows.
You nursed that Mustang convertible into its old age by keeping the oil fresh, pampering it a little and not driving it so hard. It’s time to do the same for yourself.
Eat healthy foods, toss away the tobacco, limit the alcohol, and get a little more sleep.
2. Get comfy with the new you.
Learn to love that distinguished face. Spend some time looking in the mirror and make sure your natural expression is a pleasant and happy one.
Maybe it’s time to regrow that mustache you had in the 70s, too. Think about it.
3. Move your body.
That Barcalounger was great when you crashed after a long day at work and needed the time to unwind and relax. So it’s easy to keep your life in the reclining position when you move on to the next phase — but it’s a big mistake.
Active people are happier, they live longer, and they attract other happy people who aren’t yet ready to curl up and fade away.
There’s no need to hit the gym for two hours every other day. Just get out and about.
Walk to the store, jog with the dog, ride a bike, go dancing. Go fishing, go bowling, hit some golf balls, shoot some hoops in the driveway, or grab that old tennis racket and find a game.
Just don’t let that comfortable chair become a permanent attachment to your body.
“A young heart
relishes the moment.”
4. Exercise your mind.
Research shows that you can actually fight off Alzheimer’s disease to a certain extent if you challenge your brain to organize things and solve problems.
Keep those neurons healthy and those synapses firing by planning and doing some landscaping around your house or organizing a family get-together.
Read books and magazines and keep up on the news. Remain connected to today’s world at large rather than psychologically dwelling in the good old days.
It’s fine to have a couple of favorite TV shows. Help solve the murder mysteries and learn something new on the science or history channels, but get up a couple of times during every program.
5. Teach yourself something new.
Old dogs really can learn new tricks. The problem is that most of them just don’t want to bother, or they think it’s too late.
All you have to do is give yourself permission to remove all of your self-limitations and do something new.
You always wanted to play the trombone? Pick up an old one on eBay and let the glissandos flow. You always envied the guys who did woodworking in their garage? There’s nothing stopping you from doing it. Start with a birdhouse or rocking chair.
Get a canvass, an easel and some acrylic paints and start your career as an artist. Grandma Moses didn’t let age stop her. Join the local theater group and try out your acting skills. Record a song and put it up on YouTube. Learn the guitar, rollerblading or gourmet cooking.
New challenges create new excitement, keep the juices flowing and make life a great adventure. Go ahead — take a few reasonable risks.
You will probably think and feel younger if you stick with friends and women your own age, as you will never feel older or worry if you’re hip enough for them. So, now use your charm on the ladies.
The best thing you can do to stay young at heart is to kiss a woman. Why? Because you will like it so much that you will want to do it again and again. This desire will motivate you to look good, stay active and healthy and keep your mind alert and interesting.
And when you discover the ladies are still attracted to a man like you, you will have the key to unlock the ultimate treasure required for a youthful heart: optimism.
When you look at your life as a glass that is half full, that is when you will realize that there is still more time and more room to fill it to the brim. Each day is another opportunity for a new adventure and a unique moment that will make your life fuller and better.
An old heart laments the past and is prematurely consumed by the bitterness of the end that lies ahead, but a young heart relishes the moment with all of the energy and passion it can muster.