Friday, February 10, 2017

“Purposeful Aging”—Having a Life Worth Living Means Living Longer

According to the World Health Organization, nearly a billion people around the world are age 60 or older. Having a purpose has a direct impact on their quality of life and longevity.

A 2013 AARP study asked those 40 and older how they feel about aging. Of those surveyed, 83 percent agreed with the statement “that having a purpose in life keeps me young.” A 14-year-study by the Association for Psychological Science indicates, “Having a purpose in life appears to widely buffer against mortality risk across the adult years.”

The critical question as we grow older becomes; “How do you find your purpose?”

Work If work is your purpose, focus on your talents, skills and behaviors that you are proud of. Be grateful for those skills and talents. Take the time to buff them up so your employer continues to see you as a valued employee and a leader in your areas of expertise.

Volunteering Volunteering has wonderful benefits. It gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Volunteering is good for your health—even lowering blood pressure according to a Carnegie Mellon University study. And, when you volunteer with your spouse, friends or family you share that sense of purpose and accomplishment together. It brings you closer.

Family An older family member may need your companionship. Your adult kids may now need you to help out with their own kids. Everything you do to connect with family will pay off for generations to come. That even means making the effort to mend fences with estranged family members. You are now the (older) adult in the room so it’s time to make the first move.

Older people generally feel instinctively inclined to give back. A life full of meaning and purpose is what leads to life-satisfaction, which in turn contributes significantly to happy, healthy longevity.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Valentine’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving: What’s Right With Your World?

 So much of our time is spent fixing problems: problems at work, issues with our loved ones, concerns with our health, our weight, our finances. You name it, 90% of our waking hours (and so many of our sleeping ones as well) are spent in having yet another problem brought to our attention, with its clamoring need; “Fix me, Fix me!”

But what if, just for this Valentine’s Day, you shifted your attention to “What’s right with” – well, everything? What’s right with your work, your loved ones, your body, your finances? And on and on.

There is nothing more loving than aiming a healthy dose of “what’s right” at all those in your life. Think about it. When was the last time you looked at your spouse/significant other with “what’s right” on your mind? Oh sure, you love them, and that’s great, but in the ordinary course of life, how often do you deliberately dwell on what’s right with them? What’s wonderful about them, what thrills you to the very marrow of your bones?

As opposed to noticing the minor irritations we invariably inflict on those we love. You know, the messy bathroom, the forgotten dry-cleaner’s items, the missed dinners/soccer games.

And how about yourself? How often do you stop to appreciate all that is right with you and how you lead your life? Of course there are areas you want to improve, maybe parts of yourself and your life you’d like to radically transform, but there are also lots of parts of you that deserve appreciation, acknowledgment of “rightness.”

For example, the very fact that you want to improve--that you aren’t interested in putting up with those times you fail to be the kind, considerate, understanding human being you know you’re capable of being. That you want to achieve what you know you’re capable of, not the mediocrity you currently wallow in. That’s lots of rightness right there. Not to mention your taken-for-granted abilities, like your sense of humor (yes, that’s an ability), your loyalty to your friends, the skills you’ve learned along the way, and so much more.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, appreciated, and a large part of that is loving those who inhabit our world. This Valentine’s Day, look at your world, your co-workers, your boss, your nears-and-dears, even yourself, with new eyes--eyes that see what’s right with it all, and watch your love-quotient expand exponentially.

Then, be really daring, and see if you can’t, one day at a time, shift your focus to “what’s right” until it becomes a habit, vastly increasing your enjoyment of this fabulous adventure called “Life!”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Heartfelt New Year’s Resolution: Show You Care!

I heard the sirens behind me before I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance, followed closely by a fire truck. Like everyone else on the roadway, I looked around trying to figure out where the ambulance was heading, and as soon as I saw the lights, eased my car over to the right side of the road. Only the ambulance wasn’t traveling in the direction of traffic, the ambulance was heading for whichever side of the roadway was clear, if only for a few car-lengths -  much to the surprise, no doubt, of those in the oncoming lane of traffic.

I figured it must be a truly urgent emergency for the ambulance and fire truck to be commandeering both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Nonetheless, drivers on either side were nudging their cars onto the side, out of the way. At no time did the ambulance have to blow its horn, slow down, or do anything else to get where it needed to go.

We care. We really do. In moments of crisis, large or small, our respect for one another simply as human beings, shows up. I am reminded of a very touching video posted in the final weeks of the chaotic Presidential campaigns, which featured a woman trying to find the owner of a lost dog found wandering in a parking lot. It was an “equal opportunity” posting, in that the same situation was played out in both Trump and Clinton rallies. The woman wore a “Trump” t-shirt in the Clinton situation, and a “Clinton” t-shirt in the Trump situation. Didn’t matter. People in both rallies, without exception, treated the woman with respect, and tried their very best to help her find the dog’s owner. Small crisis, true, but oh-so-telling.

We care. We really do. So what if, this New Year, we made a resolution to show our caring, our respect for our shared humanity, when it isn’t a matter of a lost dog or tragic accident? What if, just as a matter of course, throughout our most ordinary of days, we made the effort to give people the benefit of the doubt, to assume people are doing their best (including ourselves!), and to respect them, regardless of whether or not we agree with them.

I know, it’s easier to do with lost dogs than it is with co-workers or family, much less strangers who are rude to us or ignore us altogether. But heck, we’re still all in this together, and a little bit of respect and consideration goes a long way.

And who knows? Someone may give you some of that respect and consideration when you least expect it, in a most delightful way.

Happy New Year!