November 28, 2016 Blog No Comments

ballonsOver Thanksgiving, I had the honor of celebrating my mother’s 97th birthday and hanging out with her 3 great-grandchildren. What a surprise and a joy it was to see how much they have in common! The more I watched, the more I realized, there is something we can learn from them about staying young, at least in heart and spirit.

It has been a wonder to the whole family to notice as our mother ages, she has retained her engagement and zest for living. This is despite painful and limited mobility, loss of hearing and almost no short-term memory. At 97 there are clearly other things keeping her alive and youthful. What I found to be particularly stunning was recognizing that her attitude toward life is like her great-grandchildren.

Here is what I noticed. See if these attributes can be added to your life to stay youthful:

BE IN THE MOMENT

Being in the moment is easy when you are 97 or 3 or 5 years old. Since you are not worrying about what is going to happen next, you can fully engage in what is happening now.

Most of us spend a lot of time in our head, planning, scheming or thinking ahead. “What am I going to say, what should I do, what am I going to cook, eat, wear…?” are the common threads of thought that preoccupy all of us. What joy it is to let all that go and be more fully present.

The kids loved running around and around the house; Mom loved watching them. The older grand kids loved taking silly pictures with snap chat filters. Mom, who had never seen such a thing, laughed and laughed and loved it too. Seeing her be totally absorbed by watching her face turn into a deer, a dog or become completely distorted was hysterical. She was all in with the moment, loving every second of it, something she would never have allowed for herself decades ago.

Turn off the running mental commentary and fully engage – you’ll be in the moment.

BE THRILLED AND DELIGHTED

There were presents, balloons, cake and candles for her birthday. Both Mom and the kids had the same response. They were thrilled – delighted – bursting with joy. Mom kept saying – “I’m overwhelmed – it’s so wonderful”. Yes, it is.

Mom also likes keeping some of last year’s holiday decorations up. Something else she would never have done in earlier days. But, when I tried to take them down, I was quickly told, she loves looking at those glittery, shiny things. So do the kids. If it is funny, shiny, pretty or has special meaning, it brings delight.

So why do we allow ourselves to become so jaded? We spend so much time being serious, controlling our response, not letting our true nature shine. For Mom, the focus is on what gives her joy. What was revealed to me is when the controls are loosened, at any age, our responses are pure, honest and spontaneous.

Focus on what gives you joy and delight – don’t let age define your response.

KNOW WHAT YOU LOVE

I watched my Mom sneak extra chocolate chip cookies – all day long. I watched my great niece snitch extra rolls when she thought no one was watching. The point is the same. They know what they like and they go after it.

Mom has a clear list of things that make her happy – chocolate, a drive in the country, the card she wants to reread, the books and pictures she loves, the special places she wants to see again, the people and the music that make her happy. What are yours?

Give yourself a break and engage in what you love simply because it makes you happy. Sometimes just knowing what these things are is enough to get you moving in a better direction. Bring them in closer and experience them regularly.

When you engage in what you love, the joy makes you more youthful.

NOTICE THE WONDERS ALL AROUND YOU

One of the things we love about children is watching their pleasure when they see something new. We vicariously experience their spontaneous unfiltered joy and excitement over pretty lights, bright colors or something pretty. Mom has the same reactions. How fantastic to see the same wonderment over small things!

I took her out for a ride in a convertible with the top down -something she hasn’t done in decades. She was delighted – noticing everything. The color of the sky, the clouds, all the trees turning colors. We drove around and around, taking it in, noticing all the wonders in our natural world.

Is that your instinct as well, to notice and savior the wonder of things all around? It makes life rich, meaningful and less stressful when the ever-changing template of the natural world is part of your everyday life.

The wonders of our natural world are an antidote to the aging stressors of everyday life.

Isn’t it reassuring to consider that in our elder years we can return to our more natural childlike state. All the details of our life have special meaning and can bring joy. What about embracing it now? How can we live more in the moment, embracing the things we love, experiencing delight and wonder with the simple things around you? Moving past being cynical and jaded, no matter our age, gives us a renewed, more joyous and youthful lease on life.

Does this highlight something in your life you’d like to explore? Would you like to be more of your authentic self so you can experience more joy and wonder? My Transformational Couching and Counseling and workshops are designed to help you reconnect to your true nature. See my website for more details www.spectrumtransformation.com. I welcome your inquiry. Use the Free Consultation button to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com