Somewhere along the line, when you are in your 60s, you have to decide if the aging process will send you backwards or forwards; or will you be content to stay where you are physically and mentally?
In the 60s it becomes clear that you are not as fast or as strong as you would like to be. Your eyesight, hearing and balance are affected, and your memory is tested daily. When chronic or otherwise serious diseases become a reality, you have choices to make. A lot of your success in trying to keep joy in your life is determined by your attitude about aging.
There will come a time when you have to draw a line and decide if your body or your mind will define who you are. Will outside sources, such as cancer, arthritis or a very serious injury define you? Outside sources can stop you in your tracks if you allow them to control who you are.
If the physical pain takes over your view of yourself and the universe, you will be lucky to stay where you are physically and emotionally — or do you go backwards? It’s more likely that you will go backwards if the body is calling all the shots.
Going backwards means you retreat to your Lazy Boy chair several hours a day. Your social life diminishes, and pessimism prevails. A “poor me” or “ain’t life awful” attitude chips away at any joy you have.
To battle devastating pain or diseases, you have to bring your mind into play. You have to seek inner peace and joy and allow your mind to help you stay even physically and emotionally.
Try many different things and ideas to stay even and not go backwards. I recommend the following efforts to maintain joy in your life:
• Find or create quiet time to meditate or pray for help in allowing your mind to help you battle pain and depression.
• Spend lots of time with optimistic people.
• Select friends, or even associates, who inspire you and encourage your efforts to not go backwards.
• Live for right now, not the past or the future.
• Keep reminding yourself that you are more than your pain or sickness.
• Ask the Great Spirit to accompany you as you strive to stay even and not retreat.
• Remind yourself, often, that your thoughts create your intentions, and your intentions become your universe.
• Several people have said you become what you think about all day long. Think joyful thoughts, and visualize less pain and less discomfort.
• When you are able to not go backwards, joy has a chance to survive and even move forward. Allow your mind, your attitude, to prevail.
The Buddha says, “Do not allow an old person to enter your body.” Staying even, physically and emotionally, is not easy. It’s a daily battle and requires great determination.
Attitude — I can deal with the challenges of aging and I will deal with the frustration of aging. The fight will not take away my joy.
Attitude — “When you step out your back door you can see a dirty patio, or you can hear the birds singing.”
If you are single, suffering from pain or chronic discomfort, find yourself a kind, giving, compassionate lover to walk you through the hell you live in.
Create some new friends who are optimistic and thoughtful. Get out of your residence often and leave your “ain’t life awful” thoughts behind you.
If you have no friends, you’d better love yourself …
It’s your choice! You can grow old quickly and go backwards or you can maintain joy and perhaps, with a little luck and lots of work, even move forward emotionally, physically and spiritually. You are worthy of love, respect and joy!
Bob Billingsley is a columnist at the Mountain Democrat. His column appears bi-weekly.