1. HOW TO BE KINDER TO MYSELF
I’m a lot easier on myself. As the years rolled on, I’ve learned to be as kind to me as I would be to anyone else. It took a lot of work to get to this point.
When I was younger, I always had this voice inside my head that pushed me on. It began with my mom encouraging me, and then it became my own. It whispered:
The sky is your limit. You can go as far and as high as that. Easily.
That was when I was a kid. Walking my dog, Maggie, at night. And I believed it.
Photo by reza shayestehpour
But that voice changed as I got a little bit older. It started to grow more critical and judgmental. It was damn harsh. Where did this come from? I think it was because I was so influenced by everything in my teens and 20’s. Magazine ads, sitcoms, MTV, friends.
You sounded stupid when you said that. You don’t even know how to do that.
And I started to believe that too.
But as I’ve gotten even older, I simply don’t care as much. Fitting in, keeping pace and people’s perceptions of me – all that -is exhausting. There’s a huge freedom in letting that go.
As I’ve gotten older, what I let influence me has changed. People who are authentic, funny and creative interest me more than people who try too hard to fit in.
2. HOW TO SAVOR THE PRESENT
I have the ability to realize – in the very moment – that everything I do becomes a memory. If your mind doesn’t go down the crapper, those collections of memories will be all you have someday. When I was younger, I didn’t think like that. I was too busy indulging. Now, I savor every moment I can knowing I will someday reflect back on that moment.
A good example of this was holding my dad’s hand when he was dying. I held his hand in mine and studied his flat palm, then traced the veins on top of his hand and I remember the softly rounded fingertips. I etched this in my memory to have forever. 13 years later, I can close my eyes and remember how his hands felt.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize the importance of really appreciating the present moment. I do this when playing cards with my husband, snuggling with my bulldog, laughing with my sister, visiting with my sister-in-law or just about anything.
3. HOW TO RESET MY MIND + FOCUS
Another thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is how important it is to have a positive disposition. You always have a choice on what to focus on. Always. You can choose to live in a way that you add joy to others lives or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.
But as you get older, you are faced with a lot more shit. There’s the rub. YOU WILL GO THROUGH TOUGH TIMES. No doubt about it. Someone will pass away, you’ll have to put your dog down, or less dramatically — you’ll just have more crappy days. Anticipate it. Go through it. Feel it. But get a shovel and start digging your way out. The only thing that soothes pain (next to prayer, for me) is time. Spend your time wisely.
Getting older has helped teach me to reset my mind. To focus on my side of the street, to understand that I can control only what I can control and not to enable people I can’t control. If I want to be an encourager, then I must not let things trip me up
Don’t get me wrong, I am not thrilled with getting wrinkles and achy muscles. But these are some positive aspects of gaining experiences (or getting older…!) What are you learning?