Monday 13 November 2006

Aging gracefully

I don't feel old, in fact I feel younger than my age... hahaha defensive ba? I read this article from Philstar and it suggests practical tips on how to age gracefully. Practical, in a sense that this doesn't involve expensive anti-aging creams or uber expensive nip-and-tuck procedures, but lifestyle changes that actually will help us grow as a person. I'm posting an excerpt in my blog. I want to have this archived for future reference (shocks... ) and also to share with you. However, the gist of this is to live simply, give more of yourself to others and do things with love and passion.

Secrets to aging well
WELL-BEING By Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit
The Philippine STAR 11/07/2006

Focus on helping others. As Mother Teresa used to say the world is hungry for our help and our love. When our focus is outside of ourselves and we venture to help others or a cause, then we forget about our own problems, which experts say make us feel old. We gain vitality, fulfillment, and joy when we help others. Age is just a number; it should not imprison us to stop making a difference.

Be realistic. Do not get carried away though because you do not have the easy and bottomless energy of youth. Do not be too daring and too obsessed that you are already putting in too much energy way beyond what you can really easily commit.

Start small. Whether it is exercising or finding a good advocacy, start with a small step. If you haven’t been exercising, start by walking around the neighborhood for 15 minutes. Then increase it by five minutes every other day until you can walk for 30 minutes. Then increase the effort by walking faster, swinging your arms or even carrying small weights.

Begin with your passion. When you love doing it, it is not work. If you love to paint, then offer to paint for free for the homeless like in the GK project of Gawad Kalinga or donate your paintings to hospital wards. Using our passion to help others is very uplifting and defines our purpose in life.

Use your wisdom. The unique set of skills, gifts, and experiences you have developed over a lifetime makes you a great teacher to anyone in need. Before you know it, your influence will expand as you help a lot of people.

Connect with nature. There is something about nature that is so inspiring and uplifting. Just being surrounded by trees in a park, for example, energizes you. The magnificence of nature also makes us realize that we are so finite compared to the greatness of our Creator. That normally puts things in perspective – especially worldly concerns that throw us off-balance and stress us out. Plant flowers in your garden, smell them, and enjoy their beauty.

Be with inspiring people. Who makes you happy, energetic, alive? Be with those people more than those who provide you anguish, low morale, and pain. I remember years ago when I wrote about happiness in one’s work – if your job does not fulfill you and make you happy, then you deserve to find another one because no amount of money and benefits can equal the stress and illness you will develop in a job that makes you miserable. Heal yourself by being with people who inspire you and make you whole.

Forgive and forget. Life is too short to keep an inventory of what is wrong and not fair. Each disappointment should be regarded as a lesson with a valuable teaching. This is so difficult, but I have a technique. I implore God to do the forgiving for me; once I let go, I realize it is easy.

Listen to music, admire art. Find something that will inspire you. If it is music, buy the CD or go to a concert. If it’s art, frequent the museum. There is something inspiring about admiring the creation of a human skill, maybe because it alludes to the greatness of the God who created man and his talents.

Get involved in service. Do not just write a check to charity. Get involved. Whether it is just volunteering to teach catechism to kids on weekends or to sing in church.

According to Dr. Weil, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and author of several best-sellers, among them Healthy Aging, any activity that makes you feel more alive, more connected to others, more connected to nature, less isolated, and more comfortable with change is beneficial. It will improve your physical and mental health. It will help you accept the fact of your aging and help you age gracefully.

Dr. Weil believes many things really become better with age, such as whiskey, cheese, trees, violins, and antiques. "If you look at whiskey, aging of whiskey smoothes out rawness and greenness, it adds depth and complexity, it adds flavors, and concentrates what’s desirable. At the same time, there is evaporation of what’s less consequential and I think it’s fairly easy to see the analogies in human life with that process. Aging can increase value by concentrating what is most worthy and by allowing what’s inconsequential to dissipate. It can smooth out roughness, add depth of character, so I just find it a useful exercise to think what aging brings out in these other areas of our experience that makes us willing to pay more money for old versions."

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