Numerous habits of mine are annoying to everyone, including myself. More than simply annoying, they are sad and limit my capacity as an elder who strives toward exceptional. But, seldom in my life has perpetual hesitation overtaken me. Depression and anxiety and anger and self-pity (for 15 minutes at a time, once a week) have visited, but not the aforementioned stagnation.
This pause before a decision comes in the form of doubting yourself, vacillating for a longer period of time or faltering for lack of courage. All, shades of grey in the process of having a firm decision–especially when that decision needs to be made before events are out of control and especially out of YOUR control.
Doubt before you gather facts and look at the balance sheet and talk to logical friends and family is expected…..but. This all goes back to the comfort zone and moving out to claim a fearlessness versus constant reluctance to decide. Is it too late at an elder age to shift habits? I would say no with caveats. Training and being aware help with the most minor of hesitations. That in turn helps with the big hesitations. Hearing friends talk about making big decisions on a whim, but not being able to choose an entrée at a restaurant don’t really reflect how our brain works. That big decision was undoubtably churning in your subconscious for a bit or a trigger from the environment and your previous choices helped you think it is fast, and the entree decision to me meant that you are not focused or not living in the moment.
Since the world is beginning the Fall quarter of school I am going to let you go back to school on this blog. In 2011 I put together my favorite exercise of all time and slapped a copyright on it. Starting on the 4th of September you will be given a new practice to help you both loosen and tighten your decision and habit muscles. The exercises will be one a day for at least 10 days.
Rest and enjoy the time until you return to the classroom of your mind.
Here are a few books to add to your stack of things to read regarding aging or life in general. Since I try to make sure everything on the list has been read or listened to by this author, it seems a bit small–but being an active, happy elder gets in the way of thoughtful reading at times.
Second Wind Dr. Bill Thomas
Fear, Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm Thich Nhat Hanh this is of interest to me because of what he believes is the source of all of our fear.
No Death, No Fear Thich Nhat Hanh
Essentialism Greg McKeown (an essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential
Care of the Soul Thomas Moore
Consolations: the solace, nourishment and underlying meaning of ever day words David Whyte He also has several other books worth reading
May you find one useful bit of advice or turn of phrase that helps you in some way.
How often do you change an opinion you have carried in your head for years? Are you the type that says, at the beginning of conversation about a difficult topic “my mind is already made up.” What evidence do you need to shift? Always facts? Sometimes gut?
As an elder do you still look for interesting classes or shows or movies or street fairs to attend? Do you travel as much as health and finances allow? Do you sit by the same people at coffee every time you attend the morning group? Are there people to whom you enjoy talking because they are always doing something interesting or new–and you, do your family and friends know what you are going to say, so avoid you?
An important trait of an elder who is extra ordinary is the ability to explore, learn new things and think outside the box they have been in. Young people do it all the time, and elders should do it too. It keeps us interested in ourselves. When I get the same information, from the same sources, in the same way I want to crawl into a hole to get away from sameness. A couple of posts ago, in this blog, the discussion was fearlessness vs. comfort zone. An opinion is by definition not based on factual knowledge. Go out and get some factual knowledge about an issue and tell your friends about it. Throw in some statistics and discuss what social or economic impact they might have on your lives.
One thing that has been a joy over the years is to have friends who come from the medical, education, law and business fields. The majority of them are well-educated, if not by extra years of college, but by being curious and studious. In the middle years of my life my friends began to include real life practicing artists and my world exploded with color. They taught me how to “see” the world in different ways. One group of friend teachers is not better than another, but variety adds to the richness of your experiences and thus your opinions.
As an extraordinary elder, you have the wisdom stories to help your peers and the people who will call you ancestor.
Have an adventure this week!
Do any of you remember this saying in the title from the age of the dinosaurs? With aging the perception of what the definitions for those three wonderful words do a little adjustment in our thinking. Health might mean just the absence of any cancer cells or tumors. Wealth could connate the ability to travel frequently. Happiness, which is always a matter of perception, brings to mind a conversation with a friend.
During the 90 degree days, while staying in the cool of the basement, I cleaned out yet another file of old papers and articles saved for some reason or the other. Luckily, a small piece of newsprint was in the stack and it is copied for you below. What is fun about it is that even though it is “old” thinking, it is still true.
By George W. Calver 1928
The 10 Commandments of Health
Drink Plentifully (of water, not martinis)
Exercise Rationally (this is why I like this list)
Accept the inevitable (don’t worry)
Relax Completely (let go of all the busyness in your brain)
Check Up occasionally (do we go to doctors to frequently?)
Give 5 % of your time to keeping well and you won’t have to spend 100% getting over being sick.
Our hard-earned wisdom will tell us that getting ahead of a physical problem is the ideal, just like getting ahead of the pain after a procedure, and it may prevent a bout of something that makes you lose several weeks to illness. That said, there are numerous elders that still have a difficult time asking for help, or telling medical personnel how “bad’ the issue is, or how much pain and fear they have. YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN ASK FOR HELP..AND IT IS NOT A WEAKNESS OF CHARACTER.
Take care of yourself and come back for another reading list in a few days.