Are You Better or Bitter... Grateful or Grumpy... Cool or Crusty?!?!
While I can’t help but laugh about it now, I remember it being quite a point of emphasis then. “A quarter of a century…” The phrase kicked around in my brain for weeks.
Until I actually hit 25. Then I realized nothing different had really happened. I was still me. I still ate too much chocolate, still loved animals more than most people, still liked to color outside the lines, still wished baseball season lasted all year, and still vowed to make my daughters the most spoiled rotten little girls to ever twirl their hair and my husband the happiest husband to ever live, even if he often DID have to ask, “How? How can you spend that much money at the grocery store? How is it possible?”
Hmmm… that’s quite a few years ago and – you know what they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Funny thing about birthdays, they insist upon coming annually. I learned, long ago, that your age is just a number -nothing more. Norman Vincent Peale said it best, “Live your life and forget your age.”
Works for me!
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” – Sophia Loren
In this particular post, when I refer to growing older, I’m referring to the really interesting years… the particularly colorful ones beyond age 48. Why did I choose 48? Because that’s usually the age that people begin to see the shadow cast by the big 5-0 and start to freak out just a little bit.
There are countless books, blog posts, magazine articles, and television shows that tell us all what to look out for physically as we age. We’re encouraged to have regular PHYSICAL checkups, so we can be alerted to anything unlovely before it grows into something dangerous.
This post is taking a page out of that book, but I want to look at things we all need to watch out for EMOTIONALLY and MENTALLY as we age. Below are some of the “common problems” that can turn up over the years. That’s the bad news – the good news is this: If we do regular “self exams,” we’ll be able to nip them in the bud before anyone ever even notices them.
Before we get to the 10 culprits, remember a few things:
- Take an honest look inward with each one. All of them won’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “A-HEM” but one or even two will probably hit a little close to home. If NONE sound like you – look in the mirror and say, “You rock!” Then make a special note to never let any of them creep up on you… you’ll want to stay a rock star, right?
- Don’t just read the words, then forget them by this time tomorrow. Carve them into your mind (especially the ones that make your subconscious clear its throat loudly) and perform regular self exams.
Top 10 Non-Physical Problems to Watch Out For As You Age
- Talking too much about your health. Now, don’t jump off the deep end – if someone asks how you’re doing, tell them. Just don’t fall into the trap of letting the majority of your conversations revolve around your aches, pains, weight, medications, stomach problems, or HEAVEN FORBID bodily functions. (Disclaimer: If you have serious health issues, your family wants and needs to know how you feel. Just don’t get stuck in a cycle of letting your every sentence involve your health. There’s no surer way to appear ancient than that.) This one kind of got me recently. I hurt my back recently and, I hate to brag, but this is the most painful week I’ve ever hobbled through. Anyway, I caught myself saying again and again, “My back hurts.” I said it to the kids, the hubby, the cats, the pillows on the couch, God… as though none of them could tell with me popping Tylenol with one hand and positioning my ice pack with the other. The last time I said the words, I silently told myself, “Enough! If you say it again, I’m hiding your chocolate.” Not another peep from me.
- Expecting everyone else to do things for you. Three words: Why should they? If you are physically able to perform your own chores….. shouldn’t you? My grandmother cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas meals up into her late 70’s. Heaven help you if you dared ask if you could bring a dish or help clean up afterward! She took joy in her tasks and pride in her work. Could she have, easily, passed off work to the rest of us? Of course. But NOT ONCE did she ever play the “age card.” She was far too smart to shine a spotlight on her age and far too proud to want to appear weak or incompetent. She knew it was far more attractive to appear strong and capable. If you’re physically unable to do certain tasks – that’s a different ballgame. Then, by all means, politely ask for a little help. But, be honest with yourself – if you’re capable… you’re capable. Besides, staying mentally and physically active is the best thing for you. .. as long as you don’t put yourself in harm’s way or do something “dang stupid.”
- Moaning, Groaning, Sighing, and Complaining. As they grow a little older, some people tend to gripe about everything they have to do. They have to sweep the garage? Prepare to hear about it for a couple of hours. They have to make a phone call? Get ready for the longest sigh you ever heard. Philippians 2:14 encourages us to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” (KJV). Different versions of the Bible use different words for murmurings and disputings such as complaining, grumbling, arguing, doubts, division, etc. Basically, this verse is God’s way of saying, “Go about your task quietly.” And don’t you wish more people would?! This isn’t an age “thing” as much as it is a personality “thing” – some people just seem to think they shouldn’t have to do any darn thing – but, as people grow older, they often tend to think everyone else should do their bid and call and IF they do have to do something on their own… well, you’re going to hear about it!. Philippians 2:14 is a much more peaceful approach, isn’t it? Don’t be a martyr. Don’t be a victim. Is what you’re having to do really worth all that drama?
- Becoming too content. Wait – isn’t it good to be content?… absolutely. IF you’re referring to the type of contentment that means you’re happy and at peace. However, there is a real danger in becoming content with things we really shouldn’t ever be content with – like our knowledge. We should always want to know more tomorrow than we know today. We should always want to learn new things. That keeps the mind sharp and the heart young. Try to learn something new every single day.
- Shhhh, don’t look now, but are you becoming an old grouch?!?! Have you ever seen an older man or woman in public and instantly thought of the Grinch of Whoville fame? I certainly have and each time I wish they could see a mirror. They’d probably be horrified. Unless you just watched your best friend get abducted by two headed aliens, there’s just no need to go around looking like that. No… not being able to find what you’re looking for in Aisle 3 is not an excuse. Having to wait in line for 5 minutes isn’t an excuse. Frankly, there is no excuse EVER to wear an expression that would frighten small children. Seriously, do you want to be that person? Whenever I see someone like that, I always want to ask them, “Really? Is life that bad?!”
- Being overly judgmental about young people. Okay, this one’s a pet peeve. I guess it’s because some of my favorite people – people I love DEARLY – are young people. I simply hate to hear someone running down “today’s young people.” Are there areas where they need to “shore up?” Of course. Do some of them make highly suspect fashion or hairstyle choices? Boy do they?! But, here’s the thing – think back to when you were a young person. Would your grandparents (or maybe even parents) think you were an exemplary citizen?! Doubtful. Being a young girl or boy has got to be tougher than ever these days – what with social media, the media, expectations, peer pressure, etc. Don’t pull out your holier-than-them vibe or make hateful expressions. Don’t say unkind, unnecessarily rude things to them. Again, do you want to be that person? Of course not. You’re cooler than that. Realize that everyone has their own journey – you’re taking your’s, allow everyone else the same freedom. Walk along with them… but never try to make them step into your footprints.
- Becoming Hyper-Critical and Condemning. Come on,now.. life’s not that bad! Remind yourself that just because YOU don’t get it doesn’t mean it can’t be GOT. Whether it’s Twitter, today’s movies, today’s music (though, by gosh, you’d have a leg to stand on there), television.. whatever. By all means, express your opinions – but don’t suck the life out of everyone else’s day in the process. Here’s a quick example. When I was a teenager, my mom would let me put the radio wherever I wanted it when we were in the car. She didn’t complain about the music I listened to – in fact, she sang along. She, invariably, got the words wrong… but she didn’t nag, complain, or try to make me feel stupid for liking what I liked. I remember one song’s lyrics she blew especially bad. The song went, “Whatcha gonna do when she says Good-Bye.. Whatcha gonna do when she’s gone..” My mom sang, “Whatcha gonna do when school’s out? Whatcha gonna do when it’s gone.” One time she even turned to me after the song went off and said, “So.. what are you going to do when schools’ out?” I told her “Sleep and maybe watch soap operas all day.” She laughed and slipped in a little mother-in-law joke. Contrast that to what it would have been like riding in the car with an adult who starts ranting about how bad this music is – how kids today don’t know good music.. yadda yadda yadda. Thank God my lyric-butchering mother didn’t want to be that person.
- Neglecting how you look. Recently, my youngest daughter (Stephany) and I saw a lady who had to be 80 years feisty in Kroger. She had on a snappy looking hot pink top, gold bracelets jingling against one another, expensive looking ankle boots, and glittery fingernails. I told Steph, “That WILL be me one day!” If you always embraced being a girl, keep on embracing. Guys, keep grooming… girls keep glamming. Instead of thinking, “I’m getting to old to care – it doesn’t matter any more…” take the lady with the glittery nail’s approach – I’m going to rock this age!
- Failing to slow down. This may seem like an ironic one, but it’s really a problem for A LOT of people – especially men. The further past 40 some guys get, the faster they go. Their mindset seems to be, “I gotta make all the money… gotta work all the hours… gotta make all the money…” Nope. Actually, you could slow down enough to enjoy your family and the world around you. No one ever said, from their deathbed, “Dad-gummit, I wish I’d worked more! I wish I’d chased that almighty dollar more!” Truth be told, money would be the furthest thing from their mind. Way, way, way, way after thoughts about their loved ones. Slow down – not just your mindset, but your daily approach. You don’t have to blaze a trail throughout the house, for example. Slow down and go about your day with purpose and clarity of mind. You’ll misplace your cellphone far less often that way!
- Make your own sunshine. With Self Help Daily, I write a lot about happiness – how to be happy, how to get happy, how to stay happy… I throw out a lot of words, but the crux of all the verbiage is this – if you want to be happy… be happy. Choosing happiness is the best decision you’ll ever make. Sometimes as people grow older (remember, we’re talking about the 48+ crowd primarily), they somehow want to shift the role of making them happy to someone else. Big mistake. It’s no one else’s job or role to make you or me happy. Putting the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket makes about as much sense as baptizing a possum. Instead of wondering when “the last time _____ called” was, call _______! Instead of complaining that no one comes to see you – either go see them or get busy having so much fun you don’t care who – if anyone – is there to see the shenanigans! It may sound brutal (sometimes that’s what’s called for), but the reason “they” may not come around more is you’re a real downer! Maybe you feel sorry for yourself or complain too much. Maybe you’re a world class conductor on the Guilt Trip Train. Maybe you snarl and frown so much “they” have forgotten what your smile looks like or even if you have teeth or not. Be the sort of smiling, happy, fun, uplifting, and encouraging person that draws people to you. Get so busy having fun and enjoying life that “they” want desperately to step in your sunshine!
The 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond (don’t laugh – people are living longer and longer) can be the happiest, funnest, most peaceful, and enjoyable years of your entire life or they can be the most negative, loneliest, grumpiest, darkest years.
The choice is your’s. The key is in your pocket and it has been all along.
“There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.” – Author Unknown