10 Surefire Ways to Shake Off the Myth of Insignificance and Aging
Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long. – Somerset Maugham, from “The Summing Up”
Recently I read something on Sixty and Me that was along the lines of what we fear most as we age. The conclusion was that we fear insignificance. I’ve had those moments, too. The dreaded insignificance is that we are afraid we might be done with the best of living. Not true. We’re not dead yet.
Insignificance is a myth. Take a stand. Let’s get it down to specifics, shall we? Here are tangible things that you can do to feel your great, wondrous and precious significance in this life.
Wear Color, Lots of Color
All throughout my 30s and 40s I had a closet full of black. It was flattering. I could dress it up or dress it down. And along with a pair of high heels, I thought black made me look cool and sophisticated. These days, I wear color. Lots of it. Color makes me happy. I don’t blend in; I stand out.
Nothing feels quite as good as sharing your hard won wisdom with a young person. I mentor a 16-year-old girl in writing. I found her through my state writing organization. I get excited when I am teaching her something new. And I get to ask her lots of questions about what she believes and what she thinks at the tender age of sixteen. We have a wonderful, vital relationship that gives me a sense of purpose.
Creating things brings forth meaning. Quilt. Sew. Knit. Paint. Write. Collage. Sculpt. Play music. Make something with your hands. Involve your grandchildren or the neighborhood kids. Celebrate life through creating.
Can’t be said enough, can it? We all need to move, as much as we are able. Yoga. Walking. Hiking. Swimming. Pilates. There are certain forms of exercise that I can no longer do because I have too much disc degeneration in my lower back, but I can walk, hike and swim. Moving gets your “feel good” brain chemicals going and gives you a sense of well-being. I love how deeply I breathe in a yoga class or on a walk. It gives me such a feeling of aliveness.
Whether it’s your back yard, a city park or a mountain trail, take the time to walk in nature and say thank you for its beauty. Being in nature can heal a lot of what ails us. Find a place with a lake, a stream or a stand of trees. Marvel at creation and let yourself be in awe. You are a part of this. You are nature too. We are all made of the same stuff as the stars. Reflect upon that!
Create a Gratitude or Prayer Journal
Writing can be a deliberate action of reminding one’s self what is good. I knew a woman who kept a daily journal of her prayers. It strengthened her intimate relationship with the Divine through writing. Many times I have kept a gratitude journal in a similar way – writing down and recording all of the things that I am grateful for. Once you start noting what you have to be grateful for, you are going to need a lot more than one journal.
While this can seem more difficult as we age, there are lots of opportunities that we can create to open ourselves to friendship. Volunteer at a food bank or an animal shelter. Get involved in clubs and organizations that center around your interests. I have made so many wonderful friends through my interest in writing.
And most of all listen, show interest and be positive about life. Those are among the qualities that make for a good friend. And don’t be shy; take the initiative to invite someone out for a cup of coffee or tea.
Get into Technology
What an amazing world we live in. When I was 26 and working in an office I was blown away when I got an IBM Correcting Selectric II, the electric typewriter that allowed you to back space and white out a letter.
Fast-forward 40 years and now I am on Facebook. I have a Twitter account and an Instagram account. I blog. I have emails. I design my newsletter on-line with Mailchimp. And all of that technology, keeps me young as well as connected. I like learning new things about the computers, the Internet and social media. Caution: you can get addicted to cat videos on Facebook, so use your time wisely.
Make Your Opinion Known
Do you write? Share your point of view with your local newspaper whether through articles or letters to the editor. Blog. Write a Family Newsletter. It’s very satisfying.
Live Fully and Love Well
Stand as tall as you can. Speak up. Shine your passion and purpose in the world, and most of all, educate those around you about aging. It’s not the end of something; it’s the beginning of the most sacred and interesting chapter of life. You have so much to give. Carpe diem. Seize the day. The best is yet to come.
What kinds of things do you do to feel vibrant, purposeful and significant? Which of these practices do you already engage in? Please share in the comment section.