Growing Old – Gracefully 4

In the last few days we’ve talked of the aspects of aging, from avoiding ‘Nothing’, making the best of whatever is our physical condition, managing our emotion positively and today we’ll discuss managing our intellect and how that can contribute to creating a more fulfilled life, even in our most advanced years.

Intellect, is a big word, and like most big words harbours all sorts of predictive behaviours, mainly defensive.  Intellect, though, is just the name for your thought processes and whether you’re a professor or a shop worker, you still have a thinking facility.  True, some intellects are more powerful than others, but rather like making the best of our physical attributes we can make the best of our intellectual prowess in a similar way. It is often said that we use very little of our potential brain power, and physiologically this is true.  There’s a lot there we have never used.

The obvious question is how do we reach down within ourselves and stimulate our thinking systems to regenerate our enthusiasm, or discover new horizons? Maybe we want to learn, it’s never too late? Maybe we want to re-examine our own history, maybe we want to travel in our own minds or through our physical world?

Many of us have hobbies, from gardening, playing golf to knitting, is doesn’t matter as long as that hobby does not become a companion of ‘nothing’. There is comfort in the familiar, and I do not mean to decry that. To enjoy familiar company, or tasks for their reward is wonderful, but If our hobby no longer stimulates, it has become an excuse to avoid discovery and curiosity.

It is also true that as we age we become less and less tolerant of change, we become set in our ways. It is part of who we have become. A little self-criticism from time to time, does no harm.  It can and should be a stimulus for change, it is the hardest thing to do.  Reinforcing old habits be they good or bad in effect closes our eyes to the ever changing world. If we are to remain a part of it, if we want to be, that’s the secret that so many of us have lost.

Can we learn? Can we share? Can we discover parts of our own minds that have lain dormant for years?

We said that there are enormous number of ways to waste what time we have and be numbed and dumbed by ‘nothing’ but at the same time there exist a growing number of ways to experience and learn. There are still innumerable sources of enjoyment and enlightenment from the written word, through sport and competitive games to the digital media.

Perhaps the most stimulating way of using our intellect is in conversations with our fellow man.  These are challenges and choices that we make every day. We can choose to watch some mindless game of chance or read a book.  Creativity is not the preserve of the young, we can all have the ability to discover.  No matter what our age we can find a joy in discovering something that is new, at least, to us. We can choose whether to have a nap or take in some music, or enjoy a magazine. There is purpose in our being, whatever our age, and that purpose is our individual gift. To ignore it is to throw away our life.

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