Everyone’s heard the admonition to “age gracefully” – but aging happily is much better. It’s never too early or too late to start developing a peaceful and satisfying lifestyle that grows with you through the years. Here are three ways to ensure the later years are as enjoyable as the younger ones.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Strengthen Long-Haul Muscles
It’s hard to be happy when you just don’t feel good, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 50s or 70s. Exercise for healthy aging is a given, but what you focus on matters as well. To create a body that stands the test of time, one crucial but overlooked factor is the strength of your bones and muscles, including the upper back and arms. Developing these muscles through mild weight bearing activities along with stretching encourages a better posture, which leads to full lung expansion when breathing, which in turn increases oxygenation and improves blood circulation and grows stronger bones. There are all kinds of benefits to better blood flow as you age; it’s good for the skin, kidneys, tissues and elimination of toxins. The side benefits of strong upper body muscles are an extra bonus: your arms are less flabby and you avoid the hunched posture that makes you feel much older than you actually are. Confidence is a major component of the happiness factor.
Start on Your Bucket List
Bucket lists are filled with things you wish you’d made time for over the years, but the truth is this: it’s much more fun to do those things as you go, rather than waiting for the “perfect days” to do them. Start now, and determine that you’re going to do at least one bucket-list item every single year and if possible, with some of your closest friends. Remember that bucket lists are for things way outside your ordinary daily life. You can save the biggies for every few years, such as hiking the Grand Canyon or floating the Chao Phraya River of Bangkok to see the famous ruins of Ayuthaya – but do smaller things every single year, even if it’s just for a long weekend. Devoted and adventure-filled time with cherished companions of your own gender also strengthens friendships that will last long into your retirement years.
Stay Relevant and Connected
There’s nothing worse than becoming irrelevant. It happens slowly at first, when the younger generations start talking “around” you instead of “to” you, assuming that you either don’t understand or don’t care about current events or trends. The sure-fire way to combat this and stay connected to the world-at-large is to keep your mind sharp. Read news and opinion pieces online, interact with all ages of people in coffee shops, at parks or at social gatherings, and ask what people think, feel and care about. Join a book club, cooking group or knitting social – anything that sharpens your mind and coordination skills. Learn a new computer program every year, or download phone apps that cause you to engage in things you don’t know much about yet. Stay curious and continue creating a life without dull moments.
Aging happy means living a meaningful life, regardless of where you are along life’s journey. The accumulation of experiences and a commitment to active engagement gives you the ultimate control of how you enter the twilight years.