Sometimes it’s very hard to think nice thoughts when your hip is in constant pain. Your hair is getting thinner and your waist is getting thicker. To top it all off, you woke up this morning with a spikey black whisker on your chin!

Where the heck did that come from? Did it spring up overnight? Or has it been around for days, taunting onlookers who were kind enough to pretend it wasn’t there?

Staying motivated is tough. Getting older isn’t always about carefree living, travelling, and exciting new adventures. Sometimes it’s about living day to day with health issues, money problems, chronic pain and an ever-shrinking world. To get unplugged, we try reading articles that promotes the “10 Senior Secrets,” but nothing’s working.

There are days when we need a good kick in the bloomers to get unstuck from feeling that our quality of life is melting away, faster than a double scoop on a hot summer day.

Keep Aging in Perspective

There have been many articles and comments written on Sixty and Me about the joys and challenges of aging. We all do what we can to support each other and be the best we can be as we deal with the crusty rusty years.

But if our thoughts are not in a good place, we can find it difficult to read about others who seem to be managing so much better than we are. Living our lives can become a challenge when we have to compromise or eliminate activities that bring us joy.

Find Inspiration through Poetry

Recently, I found an ancient poem written over one thousand years ago by the Chinese poet, Hanshan. It came on a day I needed it most and spoke volumes to me in its simplicity. I would like to share it with you:

Bugs in a Bowl

We’re just like bugs in a bowl.
All day going around never leaving their bowl.

I say, That’s right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.

Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.

Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.

Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.

Say, Hey, how you doin’?
Say, Nice Bowl!

Choose What We See

When I sent the above poem to a friend of mine, she said, “It makes you want to think ‘nice.”

Sometimes it’s hard for us to think ‘nice’ all the time. Especially when we’re in pain and have to limit our activities. But Hanshan reminds us to practice mindfulness and stay connected to our world. To say in touch with our fellow bugs. His simple words suggest that moping and feeling sorry for ourselves can lead to isolation and despair.

Studies have shown that social interaction is critical for our well-being and ongoing mental development as we age. Regardless of our limitations, we need to remember to interact with others and continue doing things we love, regardless of our situation. And that usually means being in a constant state of renewal, as we adjust and regroup into our newly morphed selves on any given day.

10 Ways to Get Inspired

As I continue to Live with Lupus and my limitations seem to grow daily, I am determined to enjoy life, regardless of the ever-changing view. Here are some things I do that work for me:

  • Attend a monthly book club meeting I organized right here in my condo building.
  • Reach out to the online community by blogging about what matters to me.
  • Call my out-of-town sisters for marathon telephone conversations.
  • Relax my mind and body through meditation and visualization exercises.
  • Practice gentle yoga and deep breathing exercises every day.
  • Water-dance to music in the pool with my waterproof iPod.
  • Share a glass of wine and a good meal at home with my husband, family and friends.
  • Enjoy every minute I can with my daughter and granddaughter.
  • Read good books which inspire and broaden my world.
  • Play online scrabble with people from around the world.

So to all my fellow bugs out there – Hey! How you doin’? What things do you do to stay happy and connected in your bowl? Please leave a comment and join the conversation.

Let's Have a Conversation!