I have a wonderful keynote I present called, presumptuously, The Meaning of Life. I talk – and sing – about life lessons I have learned from elders, particularly those in nursing homes.
Many associate nursing homes with death, yet these people are not there to die but to live another chapter of their life.
As spring approaches, here are some things we can learn from elders about spring-cleaning our life.
Several studies have suggested that having purpose can benefit your health. Do you know your purpose in life? If so, great, but understand that this purpose will evolve and change over time so watch out for the signs.
Help those around you understand their purpose. Help them understand that what they do has meaning and contributes to the greater good.
Think of great experiences in your life. Where were you? What were you doing? How did it feel? How can you shape your life to recreate these feelings every day?
Laughing activates the same helpful chemicals in the body as exercising. So, laugh more. Bring humor into your life and workplace. Listen to comedy in your car, or on your phone. Watch something humorous at night. Buy a book on standup comedy. Open yourself up to fun.
Turn off the news and turn on a comedy. Use self-deprecation instead of insults.
Go out and be around funny people. We are 30 times more likely to laugh when we are around other people than when we are alone.
Social networks are also good for a healthy mind and body. Certain people are shy and reserved. If you are one of them, step out of your comfort zone and talk to and meet new people.
For those who are more outgoing, understand that not everyone shares your traits. Be mindful of your approach to others.
Be a good listener. Friendship is less about you and more about the other person. Estranged from someone? Life is too short. Make amends. Pick up the phone.
Be ready to help friends through a difficult time. Friendships sometimes end when one person experiences a rough patch and feels that the other person just wasn’t there for them.
Be interested in other people. Focus on finding out about them by asking thoughtful questions.
Be genuinely happy for your friends. Don’t get competitive with your friends. Life isn’t a race. Celebrate your friend’s accomplishments as if they were your own.
Consider these things as you spring clean your attitude:
Procrastination = deterioration: if something is nagging at you, find out what it is and deal with it.
Beware of all or nothing terms like “It’s always”, “I never.” These trigger negative thoughts.
Do you expect the best or prepare for the worst? You know the right answer for a positive attitude.
Stop beating yourself up for not being good enough. Stop being your own worst critic.
When recalling the past, do you remember the good or the bad? Allow the good inside.
Do you give up or never start things because you are not perfect? No one is perfect and never will be. Don’t let that stand in your way.
Do you motivate yourself with your wants or avoiding your fears? You will never stretch yourself if motivated by fear.
When you think of others, do you think bad thoughts or good ones? Wish the best for everyone. It will come back to you.
Make a list of things you are grateful for. Post it somewhere visible and read it each day. Take the time to thank the Creator for those you are grateful for and tell them yourself. Tell your co-workers why you are grateful for them.
Make a list of what is important to you – people, activities, and values. Pare it to ten. At the end of a month, examine how much time you have devoted to what is important to you.
Try this. Pick three things to be grateful for each day. Make a journal entry on a positive experience that took place in the last 24 hours. Meditate. Perform random acts of kindness.
In a world beset by turmoil and division, the spring marks a symbolic time to start anew. What will you do to spring-clean your life this year? Please share in the comments.