Aging With Purpose and Grace



I am a sucker for lists. To-do lists, productivity lists, how to be happy lists, the best movies in a foreign language list…doesn’t matter. I like lists. How about one that has nine, easy-to-follow steps to a more positive journey as we age?

1. It’s time to use some of the money you saved up. Use and enjoy it. There is nothing more dangerous than a distant relative or investment guru with big ideas for your hard-earned capital, now or after you are gone. You saved and sacrificed for precisely this time in your life. Without putting future needs at risk, get over the feeling that any excess spending is wrong. If you don’t take that trip, fix the kitchen, or give a monetary gift to a grandchild, when will you? 

2. Keep a healthy life, without overdoing physical effort. Do moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well, and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, do tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed. And, no, you don’t have to spend two hours a day at the gym or train for a marathon…unless you want to.

3. Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then. Enjoy it together now.

4. Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. Remember, you have survived 100% of all the bad stuff. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good now. Small issues will soon be forgotten.

5. Always stay up-to-date with topics that interest you. Stay in touch with friends. If social media isn’t your thing, write letters or use a telephone for something other than texting! Keep your mind open. You were born knowing nothing. Everything you know now you had to learn. Well, that doesn’t stop just because you are older. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.

6. Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to gently remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today. 

7. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). The last two years of a pandemic have crippled human interaction, but time locked away has proven how much we need others. If you are more comfortable as a solo act, you can still leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.

8. Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. 

Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for too many complaints. 

9. Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories, and the life you’ve lived so far. 

There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might assume. Now is the time to be content, at peace, and as happy as you can be!

As an aside, recently I finished reading  Having Our Say. This is the life story, told in the words of Bessie and  Sadie, the Delany Sisters, two black women who lived to be over 100 years old and shared the struggles and triumphs of their fascinating lives. They were powerful examples of aging with purpose and grace against difficult odds.