Rediscovering the Thrill of Life after 60
When was the last time you felt thrilled? Yes, thrilled, as in “I’m thrilled to be here,” “I’m thrilled to see you,” and “I’m thrilled to be doing this.”
Being thrilled is the epitome of positive human emotions. It means to be delighted, exhilarated, electrified and galvanized.
When you are thrilled, you experience a spine-tingling and breath-stopping excitement, a heady sensation. Colours are brighter, sounds are sharper, your heart races, and you are pulsing with energy. You can hardly wait to step out and begin the day!
When You Lose the Thrill
But wait! Aren’t those the emotions you feel when you are young, when you are newly in love, when you have won that new job or bought that first home? Aren’t those the emotions of a new beginning? And don’t they belong to another time?
Lately, I had been anything but thrilled. For the past few weeks, a long, hot dry summer had dragged on. Like the trees and flowers around me, I had felt dispirited, chugging along through the days.
Where Did it Go?
Small annoyances were robbing me of my appreciation of life. Instead of waking with a feeling of happiness, eager to welcome the day, I found myself dwelling on the things that are not quite right.
I have little patience with feelings like this now that I’m older – there’s no time to waste on them. I didn’t want to spend one more minute in this slump. Whatever happened to the U-curve of happiness that I wrote about in May? Or the paradox of aging, where I was supposed to be happier with every passing day?
Making a Change
I needed to get back there! I tried the things I usually do – gratitude exercises, journaling, meditation, positive self-talk. Nothing worked this time. I needed something more. So I decided to change it up. Try a different route.
The next morning, I prepared a small backpack, wrote a note for my husband, and left the house. When I stepped out into the patio at dawn, a smudge of amber lay between the skyline and the stars. I stood there for a few minutes, watching it widen; refracted light from the sun washing over more and more of the sky. Finally, the sun’s rays broke through, announcing another day. It was a miracle – a thrilling show that happened every day.
Choosing a Different Route
But I was not done. I made a quick decision to forgo my usual walk, and visit an old haunt instead. This required a short drive to a park on the outskirts of town, where I hadn’t been for years.
When I arrived, I was relieved to see that nothing had changed. The entrance to the park was just as I remembered it – a majestic canopy of trees. Familiar paths welcomed me as I walked through and veered left towards the centre of the park.
Oaks, firs, arbutus – they were all still there, a little taller, a little wider, but essentially unchanged. I sat at the base of an old eighty-foot arbutus, and drank in the quiet air. I could feel my pulse slowing, my tension leaving me.
I followed several pathways, then came back to the old arbutus. It was now noon, and I stopped for lunch under the spreading branches, out of the glare of the October sun. I gazed through the trees, I listened to the birds and I fed my crusts to the squirrels.
Rediscovering the Thrill Anew
Later, as I sat at my desk, and opened my laptop, words began to flow. Everything was effortless, the idea that things were “not quite right” was gone. In its place was that feeling I thought I’d lost. It started with a twinge, just a shiver of anticipation along my spine. And there it was, a boosting of my spirits, a joyous lifting in my heart, it’s what I’d been looking for – I felt delighted, exhilarated, heady with excitement, and yes, even thrilled.
How do you get out of a rut when nothing in life seems thrilling? Are there places you go for inspiration? Do you use a gratitude journal or other tool to maintain a positive focus? Please share your experiences and suggestions in the comments below.