Many people in our society are afraid of growing old. The slogan when I was a teenager was "Don't trust anyone over thirty." Researchers project that almost 300 billion dollars will be spent world wide in 2015 on anti-aging products and surgical procedures to remain young. Over a third of that will be spent by Americans.
People often fear the loss of their youth. The physical changes to our bodies and our minds can be very challenging. One of my favorite quotes is: "Age is not for sissies." The elderly face memory challenges and chronic pain. Even creative leaders worry about losing their creative abilities as they age.
Yet age can bring something that is rarely found in youth — wisdom and peace. If we have paid attention to the lessons that life has bestowed, we will have earned a measure of wisdom and peace. Yet, some fail to learn these lessons and are doomed to repeating the same mistakes.
Are you unhappy with your life? Disappointed with the path your life has taken? Do you have regrets and keep living in the past? My brother-in-law was like that. He was never happy with what life had tossed his way. He was always looking for the next opportunity, the next pot of gold. He died just short of his 51st birthday still seeking success. He failed to see what he had in front of him — people who loved him.
From time to time we all need to pause and reflect on what the challenges we have faced have to teach us. What did I learn this week or this month that will make me a better person? Why do I keep making the same mistakes? How can I better serve the people I love? What am I thankful for?
Part of the wisdom of age is learning to accept our lives and to appreciate the gifts we have been given. We need to find peace with our desires and to accept what we can not change.
Here are five actions that you can take immediately to help you find peace in your life and to develop the the wisdom of age.
- Create a gratitude journal. Every day write down something that you are thankful for. My six-year-old daughter and I do this verbally every night at bedtime.
- Find ways to say thank you to the people who have made a difference in your life. This could include family, friends, teachers, and colleagues.
- Remember people's birthdays. I once met a woman who every year sends birthday cards to the more than 1500 people she knows. For most of us, our birthdays are a special day.
- Volunteer to help someone in need. The opportunities are endless. Service to others in their time of need is a privilege.
- Write down the stories of your life. Our lives are best understood through the stories we tell ourselves and others.
May the wrinkles of time
create wisdom and peace
within your soul.