As featured in North Hawaii News August, 2016
It has been said that one secret of aging well is having the ability to let go and accept the changes that life inevitably brings. The longer that I have worked in the Gerontology field, the more I have born witness to this wisdom. Older adults who find a positive spin on even the saddest of memories are those who tend to participate more fully in every day, to the best of their ability.
Your quality of life depends upon being aware of your role in life struggles so you can stay on course for a life-enriching experience. It takes an intentional visit into the depths of your soul to truly find a way to shift the sails of your life journey and head towards smooth waters. Mentally preparing yourself to handle times in which you must “let go” will help you get through those situations with a calm, determined focus that will assist you in picking up the remaining pieces of your life.
Whether it is the loss of a loved one or a shift in the ability to maintain balance without the need of an assistive device, various obstacles will arise in our lives. What I have come to understand is that everything that happens in life is basically neutral. The way we carry ourselves through it creates our ‘good’ or ‘bad’ experience.
I know a strong 87 year old woman who relies on her faith to see her through life’s changes. Her advice is to “leave it up to the Lord, and then reach out to others who are going through a difficult time. Do your best to comfort them and it will help you through your own struggles as well.”
An older Japanese friend of mine was moved across the country to an internment camp when she was young, and speaks about how the experience opened her up to new experiences. She realizes that she likely would not have left the comfort of her home town had she not been forced to start a new life that lead her to Chicago and New York City. The conversation often moves on to the great experiences she had in those big cities, rather than reflecting on the fear and prejudice that forced her family to be banished from her home town.
These women have found ways to shine the light of positivity upon challenging circumstances. My 7 year old daughter must have read my mind, because as I am writing this article I told her that it was time to turn off the technology and get outdoors. She said, “at first I was upset that it was over, but then I realized that I can change my mind about anything and feel better.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I hope their examples give you a taste of how you can live the good life, at any age, regardless of the size of the struggle.