As a middle-aged adult, what have you learned from your parents about aging? How much of that have you kept? How much have you let go? What have those choices meant for your life – for good, and not quite so good?
Looking back as an adult child of aging parents, I realized there were so many things I picked up as we moved together through time. Hopefully, those that matter most have stuck even though far more have fallen away.
That’s not good or bad, so I refuse to get all guilt-ridden now that my parents are gone. Yet, I’ll probably always wonder what flew completely over my head as I was focusing on something far less significant. Oh well. It’s all part of living the lives we were given.
Life’s full of lessons. Those our parents taught us about aging usually had nothing to do with aging. They just had to do with living . . which is what aging’s all about anyway.
In any case, I’ve come up with 10 lessons I learned from my mom and dad about living my way through to growing older. These will probably sound fairly familiar to you, since most folks kind of see them as “universal truths” of a sort. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Of course, this is just a small list about one point in time (i.e., NOW), and it’s not at all complete. And I’m sure I’ll realize other teachings worthy of gathering up and letting go as I move farther along in life. That’s the great part. You’re not fully done learning till you die . . and then the learning starts all over again as those who come after us pick through all we’ve had to share.
So, here is my list of 10 lessons (in no particular order of priority) I learned from my mother and father about aging well. See how many resonate with you, as well:
1. Aging is about wising up, not dumbing down. Why on earth do so many seemingly smart people assume that the more gray hairs and wrinkles one accumulates, the more stupid one becomes? That’s just nuts! Granted not everyone grows wiser as they grow older. We all know wisdom has nothing to do with the numbers of age. However, if you treat someone as wise you might just be surprised by how much wisdom’s hiding inside that wrinkley gray person. In other words, Golden Rule time: Treat old folks as you want to be treated when you’re old because before you know it, you will be.
2. If a belief – no matter how seemingly sacred – doesn’t support the person you’re becoming, let it go and move on. Life’s full of foolish, and even harmful, beliefs that serve no one’s best interest. If it’s something you question, set it aside to visit later when you know more about yourself and the world. If it’s something that fails to build or reinforce a self image that truly reflects the person you’re becoming, then by all means let it go! Life’s too full to give what limited room we have to the stuff that drags us down.
3. Stop struggling to be the person you thought you wanted to be when you were 20, and get comfortable with the incredible person you really are now. If you’re not who you thought you were going to be, so be it. Be grateful. That life could have been much worse than the one you’ve spent all these years shaping to fit the real you.
4. No one’s perfect. No parent. No child. No spouse. No true love. No One is perfect. Which, in and of itself IS perfect since each of us is just imperfect enough for most others to get along with – and some to love. Perfection’s far over-rated in the human species. Striving for perfection is great. However, given its over-rated-ness, climbing all over ourselves for not reaching it each time is a major waste of time and energy . . which are both far better devoted to other pursuits.
5. The primary focus of life’s second half is to let go of all the crap we spent far too much time in the first half accumulating. Letting go is a gift of successful aging. Few of us realize in the first half how little of the stuff we fought so hard to get we truly need to live well.
6. You become what you believe, so believe the best about yourself and everyone around you. If you see good, and expect good, good will surround you. What you put out into the universe, is what you’ll get back from the universe (i.e., the Law of Attraction). That doesn’t mean there will never be pain in your life. It does, however, mean that the pain won’t overtake you and be an end in itself.
7. You don’t stop growing till you’re dead, unless you stop growing beforehand. Life’s to be lived till it’s done with you, not the other way around. But it needs a little help. Hanging out in front of the television all day isn’t living. Get out and do something to make a difference. Make someone else’s life better, and you’ll be surprised how much better your own life will become. Stretch your mind as well as your body. Keep learning. And keep sharing that learning.
8. Hang out with positive people. They rub off.
9. Friends are precious, and they disappear way too soon. Do what you can – whatever you have to – to stay in touch. Life’s much too short to willingly let your world grow smaller.
10. Let he / she who controls the purse strings pay the bills. It’s way too difficult the other way. Money’s a necessity in today’s world. Unfortunately, far too many people see it as the most important part of living a good life, when in fact it often creates far more damage than it fixes. Use money as the tool it is. Let it make your life better, but don’t depend on it to make your life better. Only you can do that.
11. If you hurt someone, ask forgiveness. If someone hurts you, give forgiveness. Remember that a world of one is a very lonely world indeed, so keep the doors of your life wide open. Aging’s a lot more fun for everyone when it’s a party and the whole world’s invited.
Okay, so there were eleven. And that’s obviously not the end. My parents taught me a great deal that’s worth holding on to. I’ll bet yours have as well. When you have a chanceArticle Submission, make a list for yourself. It’s a good thing to have on hand.
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Author: Gail McConnon