Some days I feel like I spend the entire twenty-four hours doing things that will help me when I’m “old.” I know that’s not quite true, I am reaping the benefits today of all the positive things I do for myself and as a gerontologist I think it is important to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” However, sometimes it all just feels a little overwhelming—use the alternate hand to brush my teeth and my hair to lay new track in my brain, eat a high-quality breakfast to help control my weight and get in the necessary nutrients, take supplements after breakfast to cover any short-fall in nutrient consumption from breakfast, get dressed using non-dominant hand. This is all happening, mind you, before nine AM. Then, taking a different route to a meeting to help keep my brain active, practicing tap dancing for an hour (laying more track), then lunch—again a challenge for getting in those nine servings of fruits and veggies, plus protein. After lunch, learning something new to add to my blog posts, writing said post, then walking George for fresh air and connecting with nature, a couple of quick conversations with friends to maintain my social network, cook dinner—yep, same song as breakfast and lunch, third verse. Follow this by practicing the piano-- again for new brain tracks, then brushing again and flossing, hot bath to relax and de-compress so that I can be in bed with lights out by 11 pm to get the eight hours of restorative sleep needed to repair any damage done by all of the above, and just living and breathing the air and experiencing the stress of life in a big city. Whew! Just writing all that made me want to lie down.
It was so much easier when we were younger, and took so much less time to keep looking and feeling good. That is what I miss most about my younger days. But, we can’t go back, so now the way to feel as good as we can, be as sharp as we are able to be, and look as vibrant as possible, is to invest time, and some money, into taking care of ourselves.
Is there some good news somewhere in here, L.J., you ask? But, of course! The incredible and miraculous machine of the human body, when cared for with some love and attention, can stay running at near-peak performance for a long time-- well into our nineties, our upper nineties, and beyond, according to research coming out now regarding large swaths of folks alive today around the world. What I am figuring out is how to make the maintenance fun. My idea of fun might not be yours, and that may not have been your first thought upon reading the laundry list of “must-dos” above, but the winning answer for $10,000 is: make it fun. New research hot from the field points to fun as the secret sauce for living a long mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy life—a new concept for this sometimes too serious Virgo social scientist, but worth trying.
After much thought, I began to see ways to make all the maintenance be more fun, beginning with an attitude adjustment that will make it so. Our attitudes are everything, research also tells us, so adopting one that no matter what our day ahead is like, how little we enjoy eating vegetables, finding a way to make these tasks fun, and sharing that lighter-hearted approach with our fellow aging friends (and strangers) slowly refocuses our lives from drudgery to one never-ending party. As Mary Poppins said, “Snap, it’s all a game!” Maybe not overnight, but with time, we can lighten our spirits and see the fun, and the beauty, of life all around us. One day not too far in the distance from today, laughter—the outward and tangible expression of a person having fun, will become your morning song and evening vespers; I’m betting my life on it, because who wants to be Grumpy Cat all the time? (I bet he never gets invited to fun parties;-)
Until next time…Be Vibrant!