Reflections from a new senior citizen: It’s all about love
This December is a big month for me. Last weekend, Diane and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and our 43-year relationship. On December 26th, I will turn 65 and officially become a senior citizen. These milestones are great opportunities to consider—what have I learned over these 65 years of life? What have I learned over 39 years of marriage?
I have to admit (trust me, my wife agrees!) that I’m a slow learner. It takes me a long time to really understand stuff. But once I get it, it sticks.
Here is some of what I’ve learned over the years
I get it—it’s easy to think about what’s missing in our lives. But consider your blessings. Even when times are tough, there is always something to be thankful for. As I get older, I see what a fortunate life I’ve had—parents that loved me, good education, an opportunity to live in our great nation, some wonderful role models, two amazing children who turned into fine adults, a daily opportunity as a psychologist to make a difference in other people’s lives, and a loving soul mate—my wife.
Keep your perspective.
Isn’t it hard sometimes to figure out what is small and what is big? In the present, we look at our lives through a microscope, which makes small things look large. But when we look back into the past, we look through a telescope and only the really big things are visible. I remember agonizing over every decision when our kids were teenagers. Looking back, most of those decisions turned out to be insignificant.
Many problems will solve themselves.
Sigh. I wish I knew that 30 years ago. It’s true. Most problems have a way of sorting themselves out over time or we figure out a solution. Our response to most of everyday life dilemmas are not always very elegant. But they work, which is usually good enough.
Figure out what’s important to you and keep those values at the center of your life.
This is easier said than done. It’s so easy to get distracted with the stuff of life. Is having every new-fangled toy or device really that important to you? Or is it more important to spend time with the people you love? Make your priorities your priority.
Don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself.
It’s okay to visit “pity city” from time to time, but don’t move there! Life’s challenges have a bright side too. They teach you important lessons that enable you to grow and develop into a better person. When life gets hard, consider it an opportunity to learn and find something new about yourself.
Take care of yourself.
Don’t expect others to take care of you. Take time to nurture your body, mind, and spirit. Put your needs on the same playing field as everyone else’s—no more important, but no less important either.
Don’t take offense.
And if you do, be quick to forgive. That’s from my very spiritual friend, Dixie, who is all of 97 years old.
Disappointment is not a terminal disease.
So many adults worry about disappointing others—their family, friends, or children. Disappointments are a fact of life. We all survive them.
Share your feelings with significant others.
Stop whatever you are doing. Look in the eyes of your loved ones. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
In the end, it’s all about love.
My mother, at her 91st birthday party, 4 days before she passed away, told all of her friends---“Life is all about love. I love all of you”. That was her going away message to her community. It’s worth remembering.