The other day at the vet’s, where I struggled mightily with my 90 pound rescue puppy (OK, so he’s 10, but to me he’s still a puppy!) to keep him from gamboling with every other animal in the place, I couldn’t help but notice an absolutely adorable labradoodle, scampering as far as her leash would allow—on three legs.
In chatting with her person, I found out that “Daisy” was one happy pup who in no way allowed her apparent handicap to, well, handicap her. And I thought, “If we only handled the bumps and challenges of life as well as Daisy!”
Especially as we hit those 50-60-70 age markers in life’s road, too often we tend to think, “Oh, it’s not worth trying, I’m too old,” or “The older I get, the longer it takes to heal,” or “Who’d want me, I’m too old.” It doesn’t seem to matter whether the topic is health or work or romance, “I’m too old” becomes an easy fallback when faced with a tough challenge.
Suddenly everything looks like too much of an effort, not worth the time or energy.
Really? What if you end up living another 30 or more years? Or even just one or two? Is it really better to spend those years depressed, thinking about all that could have been, instead of following Daisy’s example and adapting, coping, learning new skills so that whatever life you do have is fun?
I was inspired by a recent study of outstanding athletes, those who rise above the “almost great” athletes to become elite athletes, which showed that elite athletes encounter, on average, the same number of setbacks as the “almost greats.” The elite athletes, however, bring a very different attitude to those same setbacks. Whereas the “almost greats” are surprised by their setbacks, and lose their enthusiasm for the sport, the elite athletes simply become more determined than ever to excel—and they do.
The study’s authors conclude that: “We feel that the differences between different levels of adult achievement relate more to what performers bring to the challenges than what they experience.”
It’s not about age. It’s about attitude. Regardless of your age, summoning up your personal inner hero/heroine, when you are at your most courageous, self-confident and hopeful, is the way to approach any challenge.
You want to start dating at 70? Jane Fonda brags about falling in love at 72, and 90 year olds are getting married. You don’t think they have wrinkles and creaky knees (well, maybe not Jane Fonda). You’d love to find some kind of meaningful work after retirement. Good. Employers are discovering the value of experience that Boomers bring to their job. Buff up your resume and get out there. Or launch a web-based start-up. What, you think that’s only for 20 year olds? Not so!
Or you’re minus a breast, a prostate, you’re facing more chemo or surgery—it’s dreadful, yes, it’s a setback, for sure, but just like those elite athletes, you can go forward with your best self, your most courageous self, your most determined self. Determined, not just to deal with this present challenge, but determined to enjoy life, however it presents itself.
Be like Daisy: tackle every challenge in life with pride and joy!