Creative Eldering: Coming to Terms
Throughout our lives, we may face unique challenges, but to have gotten this far, we can reflect on the process of achieving important milestones. As we journey toward elderhood, we can meet our personal trials with the vast amounts of wisdom we have gained throughout our lives. As wise elders, we have the advantage of experience and greater insights as we move past obstacles and redefine our own purpose in life.
We can use our time as elders, often enjoying retirement and increased “free” time, to research and diligently seek out “health-promoting diets, lifestyles, activities, thinking processes, and longevity-promoting measures” (Your Aging Body Can Talk, 24). We can act as the metaphoric CEOs of our own lives and use our ikigai (defined life’s purpose) as our personal mission statements. While we may encounter certain injuries or traumas that have a potential to displace us from our role as “CEO,” we can utilize our incredible wisdom and intuition to ensure forward thinking and our personal empowerment in any situation.
Expressing gratitude is one of the best ways we can cultivate a positive perspective about our future experience. As we practice gratitude, we will develop increased feelings of happiness in our current phase of life. We can reflect on the wonderful times throughout our lives to encourage feelings of fulfillment.
Some times while we reflect we may stumble upon less favorable memories, but we need not dwell on these negative experiences. Seeking forgiveness and offering others forgiveness is another way that we can boost our overall wellbeing and move happily and healthily forward with our lives. “Forgiveness promotes your own equanimity, inner peace and happiness” (Your Aging Body Can Talk, 27). When we allow ourselves the opportunity to process our hurt feelings and come to a place of forgiveness, we free ourselves from the emotional baggage we previously hefted. We are then able to move forward with greater blessings and ease. We can also seek to repair the relationships in which we acted erroneously. We can take time to consider the other person’s feelings and their perspective concerning the situation. A very healing step is to contact them to offer a sincere apology. We can also take this time to forgive ourselves for past infractions in order to heal old “wounds” and move forward with a “more open heart, a more peaceful mind and a readiness for healing. Actively forgiving and releasing pain and resentment will free you to more actively live in gratitude and compassion” (Your Aging Body Can Talk, 29).
Like the thoughtful reconciliations we make, we can use the same degree of thoughtfulness to choose how we describe ourselves. As we walk the path of wise elder and actively pursue the role of CEO in our lives, we can also focus on our language, both the words we choose to speak and our inner dialogue. Unfortunately, terms used to describe seniors are often unfavorable and portray valuable community elders as burdensome or imply a degree of ineptitude. As wise and experienced members of society, we know better. With persistence and attentiveness, we can ensure that these erroneous ideas and descriptors do not infiltrate our own consciousness. We can choose more positive terms to describe ourselves that truly honor our prestigious role as “wise elder, your family’s historian, a living library of knowledge, a most blessed individual that has been afforded the miracle of life’s many stages, etc.” (Your Aging Body Can Talk, 30-31).
Until next month’s article, I wish each of you happiness, gratitude and comfort.