Everything changes – the old neighborhood where we grew up, our work setting, our goals, technology, the people around us – and we change as well. The world around us is changing, and sometimes it is easier to embrace that change than to accept that we have changed.
As we grow older, we begin to notice more changes in our appearance, physical abilities, senses, etc. It is not that people cannot accept this inevitable part of aging (we all know it happens). Sometimes we cannot accept this new person because we are holding onto the past – holding onto a former self or the identity we have associated ourselves with for a long time.
Below are three thoughts to help you loosen the grip that is keeping you tied to the past, embrace aging and live your best life today:
What do you have now?
One advantage people receive with aging is experiences and knowledge. Yes, you can attain knowledge by reading books, doing research and many other things, but there is no debate that experience is the best way to learn. The knowledge you have now has value – dare I say, more value than the six-pack abs you had in your twenties?
Remember, every period of your life had both pros and cons. What do you have now that you did not have when you were younger?
Be grateful for the present
The practice of gratitude is a great way to embrace getting older. The definition of “embrace” is to hold something close in one’s arms. The thing we have to remember is to embrace the moment with gratitude.
Do not get caught up in the past, because you may be missing out on a beautiful present. The act of giving thanks is similar to a revolving door, giving a benefit back to the sender. Studies reveal people who rank higher on gratitude scales are happier and healthier.
One activity I encourage people to do is the 30-day gratitude challenge. Every day for the next 30 days, write at least one thing you are thankful for. It can be as simple as being grateful for having hands, feet, food, clothes, clean water and a car.
Embrace the changes
Accepting things can be a challenge, but it is a skill that can improve if you practice. Try accepting changes that occur on a daily basis. Practice this skill when you are forced to reschedule an appointment or you run into a roadblock that took you on a detour.
The trick here is to find the positive aspect of those changes. The appointment you rescheduled may give you more time to do a certain activity, or the detour may help you discover a new restaurant.
Look at this time as a new season and try something new. Ask yourself, is there anything I want to change? It could be a new haircut, new attire, a new restaurant or a home makeover. When it comes to physical ability, you may not be able to do the same things you did at a younger age. Are you still holding onto images or expectations for yourself? Can those expectations be modified?
Change does not always have to be a bad thing, and neither does aging. See this as another new chapter in your life and determine how you are going to make this chapter unique. It is okay to reminisce on what happened in the past, but do not stay in the past and try to relive it. Create new great memories every chance you get, because that is the opportunity that today brings.
Ator Ighalo, MPH, is a health educator with Care Coordination Institute, a health transformation leader owned by Prisma Health that enables health providers and organizations to improve clinical and quality outcomes in ways that are cost-effective and patient-focused.
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