Exploring Young Hearts
A few weeks ago, a friend and I were discussing her father-in-law. She commented, “Well, he’s seventy five years old, but he’s a ‘young seventy five.’” Without having ever met him, I knew exactly what she meant. Having recently reached the midway point in yet another decade, I am becoming more keenly aware of those around me who are aging. Exactly as my friend mentioned, there are some whom I would refer to as “young sixties” and some “old sixties.” It has little to do with the actual amount of years that they’ve been alive, and much more to do with their attitudes about aging.
As I mentioned, I really have been observing those folks who seem to be staying “young by choice.” I have made both literal and mental notes about them, and thought it would be fun to share them with you. This is nowhere near being a true study – I’ll leave that to the pros – but just some simple things that I have noticed about the people in my life who seem to manage to stay young in spite of the amount of years that they have been piling up:
- They surround themselves with others who enjoy life as much as they do. Sometimes this involves being around children and grandchildren a lot, and other times it simply means finding peers with a similar outlook on life. A few that I know, for example, belong to a group of senior citizens who love to take trips, share meals and outings, and simply do life together.
- They have hobbies and interests and continue to develop them. Some of them cook, others love to read and swap books, and still others enjoy fishing and camping. All of them do something on a consistent basis that they enjoy.
- They are happy to share their knowledge and skills with others. One of the ladies that I am specifically thinking of will turn 100 years old in a few months, and she still teaches Bible to the ladies at church. Another lady spent an entire Saturday teaching me how to make old fashioned Kentucky pull candy.
- Interestingly, they all like to grow things. Whether flowers, fruits and vegetables or trees, I did notice that each of these special people cultivate life in one way or another.
- They are aware of current events but don’t dwell on them. Any of these folks can carry on a conversation with you concerning today’s news and events, but none of them seem to dwell on the state of the world the way some of us do. They have opinions on politics and world events, but don’t seem to obsess over things.
- They keep up with their health. Each of the individuals that I observed have dealt with physical issues along the way. They have managed to plow through and come out on the other side. They aren’t reluctant to go to doctors for help and take medicine when it is necessary.
- They manage to keep a sense of humor. One of the ladies sends a hilarious Christmas card every year; one that features a photo of herself doing something crazy. She may be riding a child’s pony at the mall, wearing a crazy hat or waving in a parade, but she’s always doing something that makes the rest of us laugh out loud.
- They show concern for others and do selfless acts to help others. These are the very people who inquire about my parents or send a card for a birthday or anniversary. Two of the people that I have in mind are currently on the other side of the country providing food and shelter at an Indian reservation and serving those in need.
- They are thankful for things and never take life for granted. On separate occasions I have heard several of them mention feeling incredibly blessed about something in their lives.
- Finally, I have never heard any of them offer the excuse that they are “too old for that.” They definitely aren’t afraid to turn down opportunities that don’t suit them, but not because of their age. They have simply learned their limitations along the way and do the most that they possibly can to live life to the fullest.
The next time that I am tempted to say that I am “too old” to do something, I have promised myself to look at these wonderful examples of people who refuse to age in spite of their years. I want to be a young 60’s, 70’s and beyond. And I’ve decided that it has a lot more to do with attitude than anything else. I’d like to leave you with my favorite quote of all time by Charles Swindoll on attitude:
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”