In the last two blogs we’ve looked at getting ourselves together and starting off by making the best of what physical attributes we still have. That was the first step in avoiding ‘Nothing, boredom and loneliness’ the three great enemies of the elderly.
Today I want to beat the bushes about how we keep our minds positive, especially the sentiment and emotional side of life. What do we mean by ‘emotional’? I refer to the rollercoaster of life, the thrills and spills, the happiness, the misery, the excitement, the boredom. The boredom is the still neutrality that sucks the light and life out of us. Excitement and affection are the opposite side of the coin. These emotions are positive and life enhancing.
Finding stimuli to excite us is absolutely one of the key issues and drivers in making our lives worthwhile.
There are many of us who are recovering from loss, many others full of regret about mistakes of the past. In these circumstances it is easy to see the slide into negative introspection. Regretting or mourning for persons and things past can lead to lonely self-doubt and a foundation for regret.
Memory, the longer we live the more is packed away. All of us have good memories and bad memories. They are by and large inescapable, but we do have a conscious choice about which memories we chose to dwell on. Additionally we can interpret memories, as for example the sadness of loss or the happy memories of time spent joyfully. The emergence from grief varies with each individual, but ultimately we have a choice of what to emphasise when choosing memories. Accepting loss, or mistakes as things we can no longer change, varies individually, but a way forward is what we must search for.
There is little doubt that bad memories thrive when we are lonely and happy memories emerge more easily when we are socially engaged. We will discuss social drivers in a later blog.
In our late life roller-coaster we need to find and enjoy the things that excite us. For many the following generations are the source of enthusiasm and excitement though for many this may not be the option or choice. Finding that exciting focus is a goal in itself, and we would do well to spend positive time examining what really ‘turns us on’. What lights up what maybe a fairly dull world, how do we find that beacon of purpose?
Being in love is not the sole property of youth, being in love in one swoop generates all the excitement you’ll ever need even if it means devoting your like to caring for your loved one. For those where the burden has grown too hard seek help, do not give way to misery and distress.
Step 1, if it makes you smile, you are on the right track. We can do it, if we try!
In my next blog I will be visiting the intellectual aspects of growing old and there, the emotional and the intellectual objects of excitement merge rather than collide.