Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sixty and Me: Why Saying “I Can” Can Make You a Winner in Your 60s


A friend and I were watching the Wimbledon finals on TV, clapping and cheering through every match. After the tournament, she leaned in to me and said, “Oh, how I wish I could play tennis. It’s such a great sport.”

“So, find a teacher and take lessons,” I said.

“Oh, I can’t.” Off my questioning look, she said simply, “I’m too old.”

“You’re 70, what’s the big deal?”

“That’s just it. I’m 70. I can’t.” She then took her now-depressed self off to the kitchen for some ice-cream therapy. I wasn’t about to let her leave it at that.

“You’re 70, not dead.”

“But my knees hurt sometimes, and I can’t move as fast as I used to. What’s the point? I’ll probably just end up hurting myself.”

“But what if you didn’t? What if you just had fun? You’ll never know unless you try.”

Age Is Not the Issue

We stop ourselves from attempting things we would love to do, or be or experience, because we believe the misconception that our age forbids it. But there’s very little that our age truly keeps us from doing.

Maybe you won’t be able to reach a professional level – or anywhere near professional level – but who cares? If you want to do it, if it puts a song in your heart, what difference does it make that your knees creak and your wrinkles have wrinkles of their own?

Where would Nell Painter be today, at 76, if she’d told herself, “I can’t” when her dream of being an artist took hold at 64? She certainly wouldn’t be displaying her paintings in galleries – and successfully selling them.

Nell didn’t let her age stop her, even when she enrolled in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and found herself side by side with students in their late teens.

Plus, she was learning painting from scratch, mind you, because Nell’s career had been as a History Professor at Princeton University, the furthest thing from an artistic endeavor.

Transform Your “I Can’t” into “I Can”

So, how do you get there? How do you transform that pesky “I can’t” into a fruitful “I can” attitude?
For one, appreciate what you have. Be grateful for whatever physicality you possess, be grateful for whatever mental capacity you have, be grateful for the abundant resources that you can put to work for you.

Research shows that managers who appreciate their employees and express gratitude to them, experience a 50% increase in employee performance. You are the manager of yourself. Think about it.

If you express gratitude for, and appreciate whatever faculties you currently have, just like those workers, you’ll likely see a substantial increase in your performance.

What You Think, You Become

Appreciate yourself and chances are good you’ll become more capable. Think of yourself as old and incapable, and guess what? Chances are good you’ll decline, becoming ever more incapable.

My friend found a seniors’ tennis club with a tennis coach who volunteered her time to teach these tennis hopefuls the basics of the game. The coach was mindful of the members’ different physical abilities and functionality and helped them figure out how to work around their various issues.

No, there are no budding Serena Williamses in the bunch, but the members love to play and have fun together, my friend included. She’s now a very vocal advocate of the “I can” attitude.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Give Savings A Shot


Why does it seem a penny earned is a penny spent? Why is putting your money aside such a drag?

It is. But savings is something best appreciated over the long haul. If you look at your savings all the time to see how they’re coming along – you’re like the kid who pulls up his radishes every week to look at the roots. For quite a while, those roots are gonna look pretty pathetic. Instead, open a number of savings accounts – one for emergencies, one for retirement (even if you’re just 20), and one  for fun stuff. Have goals for each – take pride in meeting those goals. And every so often, spend your entire “fun” account – having fun. It’ll make your long term savings much easier to accomplish. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Lesson From A True Super Hero—Who's Only Four Years Old!

Photo From The Perine Family

As you think about Halloween, and whatever plans you have for yourself and/or for your family, inevitably, part of your thinking revolves around “So, who will I go as this year?” It’s fun to adopt a persona for a night or two, and express an aspect of ourselves that rarely gets trotted out into public view. You know, like Little Bo Peep (really?!) or a character from Black Panther or the Avengers. Personally, I’ve always favored Elvira Mistress of the Dark – such fun to truly not be me!

Wonder Woman and Bat Man are ever popular choices – we do so love to be the hero/heroine we dream of in our most fantastical moments. But what do you do with your hero-self? Other than prance around in a costume for a night? Usually, nothing. OK, no big deal. However, there is a hero among us who chooses to actually BE the superhero whose cape he dons – and that’s Austin, a four year old boy in Alabama.

Austin has a mission, and not one that he reserves for Halloween. Almost every day, Austin puts on his cape, and uses his allowance to buy chicken sandwiches for the homeless in Mobile. Austin goes among them with his dad close by, and distributes the food. His mission? To show love. When Austin tried to run away from home to experience an adventure, his dad decided to give Austin a different sort of adventure, and talked to him about homelessness and what it meant – which ended up in Austin wanting to see homeless people and how they lived for himself.

His dad wasn’t sure if this was a great idea, but he thought “OK,” and off they went. The result? Austin wanted to make the people he saw, happy, and asked his dad if he could give them some food. Thus a superhero who really lives up to his cape, was born.

What will you do with your Halloween persona? Will you be inspired to take on some mission, some purpose, some kindness you might otherwise not think of? If a four-year-old can be inspired to show love to strangers, in a decidedly respectful and meaningful way, why can’t we?

I may have to give up Elvira. Given my predilection for showing love by appreciating and giving praise, I’m thinking Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother might be a good choice. Although, that scary black wig sure was fun!

Photo: The Perine Family

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Life Lessons from the Wild Boars




Not long ago, the world waited with bated breath while watching the rescue of 12 boys, members of the Wild Boars soccer team, and their coach, who were caught in a flooded subterranean cave deep under the mountains of Chang Rai, Thailand. We witnessed the extraordinary worldwide commitment to their safe return to their families as rescue workers from different nationalities, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds dedicated their time, effort and means, once even at the expense of their own lives to the task at hand. Nothing mattered other than saving these children.

We see this kind of selfless devotion to the lives of others over and over again, during many times of crises, all over the globe. And once the crisis has past, we sigh with relief and turn our attention back to our ordinary lives.

But here’s the thing. If we so choose, we can infuse our ordinary lives with some of the heroism and dedication that absorbed our minds and hearts over the Thailand boys and their rescuers. We all face stressful challenges in our day-to-day lives (not as stressful as what those children and their parents went through, but stressful nonetheless). Instead of giving up, we can step up, and be the very best of ourselves in situations that cause us unhappiness, anger, grief or despair.

How?

1. Adopt a more compassionate response toward others and ourselves.

None of the rescuers spent time or energy on the fact that they were in no way related to the Thai boys, that there would be no profit in it for them, that they had no obligation to help. The rescuers, regardless of background or belief, simply worked together toward a common goal.

You’re having problems at work? Or with your family? With your health? Appreciate a basic truth: everyone is simply doing the best they can with what they’ve got from where they are. Including you. Once you accept that, you can then forgive yourself and others for whatever pickle you/they are in, and seek to understand the situation. Understanding what’s going on from everyone’s point of view is what lets you effectively deal with the situation.

2. Skip right past blame and finger pointing.

The rescue workers in Thailand didn't waste time debating whose fault the crisis was, or insist that so-and-so be blamed and raked over the coals. They just pitched in and did what needed to be done. In other words, they got on with the solution.

Nothing good comes out of blame or finger pointing. It’s a giant waste of your creativity and mental capacity. Ditch it. Whatever your specific situation, aim yourself firmly in the direction of problem-solving and have at it. Just like the rescue workers, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

We are all capable of far more than we think we are. It takes focus, a willingness to leave our egos aside, and engage our mighty selves (yes, you are mighty!) in doing what is necessary to resolve whatever the issue may be. It really doesn’t matter whether your personal crisis is small (your baby is crying – again!) or large (a dreaded diagnosis), a compassionate response, dumping blame and finger pointing and concentrating on finding a solution will serve you exceedingly well.