How to Find Joy in Growing Older
Years ago, I wrote a children’s book for my grandchildren called Find Joy. It is the story of a grandma who spends the day with her grandchildren as they hunt for what they think is a person named Joy. She shows them by the activities they are doing, the places they are going and the play they are engaging in that they can find joy in their life and be joyful.
My book, Voices from My Heart, was recently published. The first chapter discusses what it feels like to be old. I often ask seniors that question and I receive a multitude of answers. One person told me they use the word “older” instead of “old.” To her it feels good to grow older, but not be old. Another person told me when her body doesn’t do what it is supposed to do, she feels old.
We can embrace our age while striving to eat, exercise and keep our appearance young. The truth is everyone approaches aging with different attitudes, feelings and health.
I like to think that you are never old until you stop finding joy in life. When my patients have an especially bad day some say something like, “I need this to be done. This is no life.” Then a few days later, they are up, smiling, laughing and participating in life again. So perhaps finding and experiencing joy in life is what makes us feel alive and young.
Celebrate Who You Are
I for one, love life. The other day I was purchasing a type of insurance and was asked the year I was born. He misheard the year and thought I was born in the sixties instead of the fifties which would make me ten years younger. He said, “I bet you wish that were the case.” I immediately said no. I do not want to relive ten years of my life. I liked my life very much but I look forward to each day ahead.
As a child grows up they want to be older. We love our birthdays. I do, anyway. I like to start at the beginning of the week and celebrate every day of my week that celebrates me. After all, we are amazing.
Ask a child, how old they are and they will hold up their fingers and proudly proclaim. I do that too. Well, not with my fingers, because I ran out of fingers and toes long ago, but I proudly proclaim my age. I earned those years. I have made myself into what I am. You have also.
Your Age in Years May Not Reflect Your Age in Appearance or Health
In my profession, I have worked with many people who are in their 80s, 90s and beyond. I have dear friends who are in their 90s. Because of that, I was taken back when I took a job at a nursing home and found residents to be young in age, but old in health. A few of them were a couple years older than I am. Many were in their 70s, but not young 70s.
My mom always seemed old for her age because of health reasons. She was at least 10-20 years younger than she looked because of her health. I care for a man who is sweet, kind and very feeble. I asked him how old he was and was surprised when he said 73. I was sure he was 90 plus. My 90-year-old friends are younger in life than he is.
How does that happen? For some people, life takes an unfortunate turn and because of disease or an accident, they end up needing care at an early age and will probably not see their 90s. However, for those same people who are young in age but old in health, their attitude of finding joy in life makes all the difference in the way they live their lives. If you have had an illness or accident that made you a little older, you can make up for it in attitude.
Look at Life’s Challenges as Mere Inconveniences
I know a most remarkable man. One day I had extra time to communicate and listen to him one-on-one. He uses an electric scooter because he was paralyzed many decades ago in an accident. He now has both legs amputated at different levels. His hands are gnarled and he has many other physical problems he deals with daily.
But he is always happy. That is what makes him so remarkable.
It is easy to take what life hands you, hunker down and sulk, making your life and everyone else’s life miserable. I see that all the time. But he ended our conversation with this, “I don’t consider myself handicapped, I am merely inconvenienced.”
There is so much to learn from a man who lives life every day serving someone else, wearing a smile on his face and bringing joy to others.
As you continue to the end of your beautiful life, make each day amazing by finding the joy around you.
What can you do to find joy each day? What is your definition being old? How do you know when you are “old”? How important is attitude in the process of growing older? How do you know when you are old and not finding joy? Please share in the conversation.