We are all getting older, can’t avoid that one. But we don’t want to get OLD, at least I don’t. Old is the guy who watches cable news all day while trying to figure out what to do with himself, the lady who screams at children to get off her lawn, the people who have lost their spirit and interest in anything beyond the end of their nose. I’ve known folks who got old young and their bodies eventually caught up. And; I know plenty of people in their seventies, eighties and nineties who don’t think of themselves as anything but young spirits in old bodies. Sure time can wear us down, as can life. Loneliness, bad health and terrible circumstances will defeat you, especially if you give in.
Some are refusing to give in, wanna play with us? Here are 10 things that help:
1. Stay Engaged: If you have something that gets you out of bed early and keeps you up late, something you can’t stop thinking about, a mission, a dharma, you won’t believe how interesting life can become.
2. Action: Daydreaming is one thing, applying it is something else. The ancient Hindu text, the Bhagavad-Gita, described three daily yogas (disciplines): Action, Knowledge and Devotion. In our world, we define creativity as applied imagination, this is the applied part. Grab a mitt, get in the game! Do something, anything, it’s the verb not the noun.
3. Knowledge: Curiosity and a quest for knowledge will keep you young, whether you pursue your PHD in your fifties or just go to cooking classes, learning can be a satisfying and stimulating pursuit for life. Remember, it’s what you learn after you think you know it all that counts.
4. Devotion: Action and Knowledge without meaning is useless. Why are you here? What makes your soul happy? Does your action have meaning to YOU?
5. Move: Your body. Walk, stretch, lift, run, dance. Weight bearing exercise is essential to avoiding nasty things like shrinking and obesity. A little cardio probably wouldn’t hurt either. Find a workout buddy, a class, a gym, shoot some free throws. Your body will thank you.
6. Stay Current: You don’t have to watch Dancing With the Stars, but you should know who got voted off. You should know the headlines, the names of the top current movies, the current teen idols and who we are invading this week. If you only listen to music from thirty years ago, find something new. Talk to younger people, learn to Tweet. Turn the page now and then.
7. Serve: This is the beyond the end of your nose part. Who needs your help? Who can you serve today? Someone needs to learn to read, to have a meal delivered, a ride to the store. Someone else needs a break from their kids, needs a visitor, someone to hear them. You don’t have to change the whole world, just your world.
8. Laugh: Did you ever find yourself smiling so much that your face hurts? That means you are out of practice. Laughter is a good thing, funny follows you everywhere: stop to let it catch up now and then.
9. Love. It’s a verb. Ask this, “How can I show my love today?” Everyday. It might be a kind word, an appreciation, a smile, an action. You’ll know.
10. Create: Make something, everyday. Write, dance, sing, paint, draw, cook, recite… Everyday, find something only you can do and do it.
I’m sure you have more, but I have found that I can comfortably fit all ten of these into my day, every day. I think, no matter how old my body gets, my spirit will stay young by continuing these practices.
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