As we get older, many seniors fall into pits of depression and despair. Despite our years of experience, there's nothing that prepares us for noticing the undeniable signs of getting older and dealing with the emotions it brings about.
But it's possible, with smart strategies and self-messaging, to truly grow happier as we get older. Let's explore 7 ideas that will help you fall in love with your current age, one step at a time.
This short video shows the incredible impact of drops of water on rock. Just watch how the power of water makes a mark in 15 years, 25 years and 50 years. A little water makes a dramatic impact. Gradual drips make a difference.
In the course of our lifetime, we create an impact. We leave a positive impact. How? By being ourselves, sharing our passion and actively creating meaning. We make a difference.
Family, friends and people in our community feel this.
Whenever they think of you, say your name, touch you or spend time with you, they know you love life. know To jumpstart loving your life—right now, as is—begin noticing how you make an impact. Even the smallest ‘drops’ matter.
As the UNILAD Tech video shows, your choices make an impact. Drop-by-drop. It takes time. Yet, over your life, your actions make a difference. It’s not just for external change. Your tiny choices make a big impact.
But don’t just look to nature for data. Check out the results of 20 years of research into human behavior. BJ Fogg, PhD is the Director of Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University. He’s studied the exact mechanisms that help people make sustainable changes.
What’s the essence? People change much like water. Tiny changes in habit result in long-term, visible change.
In Fogg’s Tiny Habits method, one discovers the power of making teensy-tiny adjustments. Switching tiny details in their environment. Like flossing one tooth.
Wild, right? While most of us have been focusing on dramatic sweeps and broad-brush strokes, it turns out that the opposite approach is what really works.
Tiny adjustments have a big impact.
When starting, change may not be visible. It takes time. Stone does not instantly show erosion.
In living with mindfulness, the same idea holds true.
Mindfulness is defined as: the ability to stay present and be aware of what’s happening–as it is happening. In this moment-to-moment awareness, change occurs. But deep inner shifts may not be visible instantly.
Whether your colleagues and friends are retired, working part time or starting a new business—we often get impatient.
Impatience is also supported in our culture, country and society. We’ve got a host of phrases like: “Show Me the Money!” “What’s the bottom line?” and “How much did that set you back?”
If you’ve been focusing on internal development, don’t expect everyone in your life to ‘get’ it. Some friends and family members may challenge your efforts: “What do you have to show for that?” “What did you get out of it?” and “Was it worth the effort, money, or risk?”
It’s possible that some of these questions may be caring, yet come across as being judgmental, provocative or scolding.
With this backdrop of external feedback, we can fall into a false belief of rewards. We think a trophy is worth working for. An external achievement is the thing to worth grabbing.
We use words that may have worked in corporate life or previous work life. Words like: ‘grab the gold,’ ‘go for it,’ ‘chase it,’ ‘fight for it,’ and ‘get it at any costs’. The words imply that goal is more important than process. The faster the better.
Hold on a moment.
Loving your life today may require adopting new values. New rules. Achieving the life you want at 60+ may need a new language. A new blueprint. A radically different way to measure success.
As the experts advise us, long-lasting behavior change occurs with tiny steps. It’s more about the process than the perfect ‘A.’ Gradual change isn’t flashy or obvious. Happy people know this. Long-term change occurs gradually, and must be worked at steadily. Small changes are sustainable.
For instance, when learning a new language, you don’t expect to instant fluency. If you’ve been out of practice and decide to start getting in shape, you are not snap-to-fit ready for a 5K race. You may just be catching your breath from walking to the corner.
Over time, your commitment becomes visible. If you’re learning a new language, you’ll learn key phrases. You discover how to ask for directions. You’re able to hold hold a simple conversation. With more study, you may dream in the new language. You may become fluent.
Same goes for getting in shape with walking, speed walking or developing strength. With practice, you’ll go faster and further. You’ll exercise more frequently. You’ll feel comfortable at points where you used to feel winded. You might make new friends and expand your social circle to include people who are active.
Change in nature is gradual. As you know, water flowing over rocks took 15, 25, and 50 years to make a deep impact.
Yet, when it comes to building skills of wise aging, we often want to have achieved it yesterday.
For example, it can be challenging to be patient. Often, in spite of our best intentions, impatience can take over.
It’s not the easiest thing to learn how to be patient and tolerant.
Especially when you must make an effort to learn new skills. Learning how to have a balanced perspective, be tolerant, manage unknowns, and deal with stuff that isn’t in your ‘strong suit’… can be difficult.
That’s why it helps to set a clear expectation for your rate of change. Change is not instant. You are not a machine. Or an instant cup of coffee. You are a living, breathing, learning and evolving human being.
Learning patience is key for success—especially aging gracefully.
Expect gradual improvement. This is just as true for developing inner qualities as it is for language skills or physical exercise.
With time we see patterns. We understand that in daily life, our emotions, stress, and agility show up all the time. This is one of the great advantages of being 60 and beyond. We’ve seen cycles, patterns before. We’ve dealt with challenges and overcome obstacles that are similar to the ones we’re encountering.
Our inner state of mind reflects in our words, ideas and interactions. Change can spring from positive habits as well as from nasty ones.
If you’ve built a positive habit, you know the power of a single, tiny shift. Maybe you have started drinking more water. Going for a daily walk. Choosing fruit over candy and vegetables over junk food. Each healthy choice affects you in positive ways.
If you’ve struggled a negative habit, one that sucks your energy and vitality—you know the impact as well. Eating too late. Eating food that’s too rich. Eating too much. Drinking more than works for you. A single poor habit may be the seed for bad moods, angry outbursts, impatient responses, poor digestion or sleepless nights.
The amazing thing about healthy, smart aging is that we can improve.
We get better at spotting patterns. We get better at naming and noticing what we are thinking and feeling. We get better at listening. We get better at empathizing with others.
How can we improve? Begin to focus on the positive impact of gradual change.
You might enjoy keeping track with an app or a journal. Tracking your efforts is a way to see your steps and respect your progress. You can be proud of making choices that head you in the direction you want to go.
What happens when we focus on the positive impact of gradual change?
Motivation. Enthusiasm. Curiosity. If you do a little good action and it feels good—it’s only natural to get curious. You get curious to see what else you can do that’s positive. What happens if you make a positive choice tomorrow, and the next day?
There’s only one way to find out.
Change is easier to see, over time. It’s true for water dripping on rock. It’s true for healthy positive aging.
If you’re making an internal effort but not seeing results—ask people around you for input. What do they notice?
For instance, if you’re practicing slow breathing to reduce stress, it may not happen overnight. If you’re breathing and pausing before you speak, seeking to be calmer, it may take a bit. You might not feel that your inner work is ‘working.’
Have no fear. It will be evident to others. Ask your partner or friend for candid feedback.
You’ll find out, you’re making strides. Others may tell you that you seem:
With objective personal feedback, you’ll discover that your inner efforts are visible.
Tiny changes in your daily choices make a BIG impact. Making tiny habit shifts over time has the power to create a lasting impact.
Gradual change is powerful, sustainable and visible.
Sometimes, as seniors, we can be reluctant to try something new. We’ve tried so many methods, programs and protocols. But came up cold. We’re still struggling with some of the same-old issues that leave us feeling stressed.
If this sounds familiar, take a moment. Breathe. Give yourself a fresh start to connect with yourself.
By starting from the inside, you can discover how to shift perspective. You can influence things that are within your sphere of control. Your breath. Your attention. Your focus. Your energy. Your media input. Your speech. Your choices of what to eat and drink. Your exercise. Your relaxation and rest.
By making tiny shifts in your daily choices, you don’t have to wait to achieve ultimate perfection. You can gain the thrill of accomplishment, knowing you’re heading in a healthy, happy direction.
Using water as inspiration, we see:
Change happens drop by drop. Tiny changes have a BIG impact. Change may not be instantly visible.
Change is gradual. Change works both ways. Change is increasingly obvious. Tiny habits make a big impact.
What direction do you want to take in your life? What would you like to see improve in your creativity, health and relationships? What values are motivating you?
With a gradual approach, you can move forward, like water. You can flow—and feel proud of your choices.
You may find yourself naturally saying, “I’m loving my life!”