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  For the
  Golden Years

Your How To Source: Issues of Value, Ethics, Human Needs and Deeds       Edited by Heinz Dinter, PhD

Fear of aging? How to get over it (2006-06-21)

Eight ways to see growing older as full of possibilities and adventure.

We live in a world that is obsessed with looking young and beautiful. Faced with loss of youth, many of us feel profound fear, loneliness, and regret — which leads to the depressing idea that the best years of our lives are behind us.

What if you could change your entire perspective on aging? What if you could bring back the joy that you felt in your youth? What if you could see your life as something that continued to be full of possibilities, opportunities, and adventure?

Often our preoccupation with the loss of our youth prevents us from welcoming the changes and mystery the journey ahead presents. But you can make a radical shift toward embracing the gifts of aging. Here are eight ways to create a positive and wonderful aging process.

1. Cultivate your relationships

The older we get, the more crucial it is that we matter to someone and feel a sense of connection to at least one important person in our life. Whether they are family or friends, if you stay in regular contact with those you are close with, calling them regularly and hanging with them in tough times, they will relate not to how you look, which of course will change, but what you are deep inside. Harsh experience will always hurt, but friends who stand by us shield us from the impact. In their company, we find a place full of peace and love.

2. Connect with your spirituality

We need to be in touch with more than just our day-to-day routines and reality. As the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins says, “There lives the deepest freshness deep down things.” We very much need constant contact with that freshness and life. Whether it is through meditation, prayer, or humbling personal experiences that show us how human we are, we can all find that sense of meaning in life that goes beyond ourselves and gives us an inner refuge and home.

3. Make a difference

As Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say, “The world is hungry for our help and our love.” Animals, people, and the earth all need our service. Choosing the field we can best help in, we tap into our inner power and act to make a difference in life.

4. Protect your health

We all know that eating a healthy diet from all the food groups strengthens our body and helps prevent disease. And appropriate, natural exercise renews us both mentally and physically. But try not to be obsessed with perfect health or fear of sickness. Do what you need to do, and then relax into a vastness deeper than yourself, the well-being fostered by your connection to the universe.

5. Exercise your intellect

As we read widely and listen well, we will continue to relate widely to diverse peoples and opinions. Our inner life will be richer as we better understand our past and, with curiosity and discipline, learn, accept, and build on new things.

6. Nurture your creativity

Nourishing a sense of connection to the beauty and goodness of the universe, we test our own powers of making new things and finding new solutions. Whether it is in art, gardening, writing, crafting, or in our relationships, we feel that something greater fills us, passes through our minds, and makes the universe — and ourselves — richer and more beautiful.

7. Rejoice in nature

As you walk, hike, or relax at the seashore, take the time to breathe deeply and take the beauty of forests, mountains, and lakes into your heart. As the years pass, such connection with nature will give us all a sense of being grounded in something stable and yet magical, relaxing into nourishment and support from the greater universe

8. Build your legacy

When I think of how best to spend my time, I give greatest value to what will be there when I am gone. That’s why with parents, I urge you to spend maximum time with your kids and give, give, and give more. That way, the good in you will take root in them and live on. What else will? Well, all of us have to work to make a living; but with every other minute available, try to channel your actions into what will outlast you and build your legacy. It may be the trees you plant; or the art you paint, sculpt, write, or build, or the minds you enrich. Age matters less when we pour ourselves into people and things that will in their own way continue us. It is our job to search this out and put our efforts there. If we do this, we may not even realize we are growing old.



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