When we enter the golden age beyond 60, we start to think about matters that didn’t concern us before. Like leaving a legacy and sharing our stories. Have you thought about it? If you haven’t, now is a good time to consider your life and author your stories.
Here are 5 reasons why this would be good for you and for those who will be there to hear or read the story you craft.
You have lived a lifetime. You have so many stories! Childhood stories. Growing up stories. Tales of adventures in the 60s. Missteps in the 70s. Oh, and what wouldn’t you do, to rewrite your stories from the 80s? (Would you? If you could?)
Most of the 90s are clear as day. The first 2000s on the other hand, are a little blurry. And the last few years? They have simply zipped by. They, too, are filled with stories that should not be forgotten.
You have lived! Childhood. College. Career. Marriage.
Children. Breakups. Makeups.
You spent years caring for your kids and your parents. Your vast experience, the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, pain and pleasure, and everything in between, make you who you are today. You are rich with stories.
Sue Monk Kidd, the author of The Secret Life of Bees, said, “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.”
Tell your stories to remind you and others of your rich and varied life.
In his research on blue zones, which are areas in the world where folks live long, vital lives, Dan Buettner found that relationships are essential to healthy aging. While diet and exercise play important roles, connection and community trump both.
An experiment by Uri Hasson, a neuroscientist from Princeton University, shows that the brains of storyteller and listener synchronize during storytelling.
You don’t need science to tell you this, you know that when your friend tells you a good story, you “experience” the narrative. The shared understanding connects the both of you and can strengthen the bond between you.
As we age, swapping stories with friends and acquaintances can make us feel less alone. They foster relationships and connections which help us age well.
All our lives we have served, we have given. We have put others before us. That’s just the way women our age lived our lives. And for the most part we have done so quietly – it is time we are heard.
Your community, your family and friends will get to hear you. And the most important person – you – will think about what has happened in your life in a way that makes the most sense to you, and express it.
Resilience allows us to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. All of us have experienced some kind of adversity. We have gone through tough times at some point in our lives, and we have a remarkable ability to bounce back.
Dr. Sherry Hamby, a clinical psychologist whose current work focuses on resilience and coping with adversity, says, “people who have found their voice, shared their story, and reaffirmed their values often find a sense of peace and a hopefulness that they did not have before.”
In her research, she saw how even brief storytelling exercises can have a positive psychological and physical impact on the storyteller.
According to Dr. Hamby, telling your story to someone else can help you identify key events, and remember details in a way that helps you become the author of your own life.
Dr. Hamby’s words make so much sense to me as I reflect on my own past events. My mother’s marriage was arranged. At 18, she left her family, her home and country, to start a new life.
Nine months later, I was born. When I was three, my mother discovered my father had another woman. She was devastated and hung on to me. For years I bore the burden on my scrawny shoulders.
Today, with the insight of 60+ years, I know that the burden was not mine to bear. I forgive my mother and myself, put down that burden and move to the future, relatively unencumbered.
Every time I tell my story, I feel lighter. I am open to possibilities and I do my best to look forward. If I had kept it all in, I would be a different person today.
Telling a story is like stirring a pot of paella – when you bring what’s underneath up, you make the whole pot better.
What is your story? How will you tell it? Do you think it will make people laugh? How do you think you will feel? Please share with our community and let’s have a conversation!