I’m not getting any younger folks! There are moments when it hits me–how in the world do I have 19-year-old son? Where did all the time go?
I used to work with the elderly population just as I was graduating from college. Because I did therapy, a lot of the wonderful people I worked with had experienced strokes or TBI’s or other injuries. Here are three things I learned from working with these wonderful people:
1. Choose Happiness
One thing the elderly population taught me was that attitude is everything! One woman in our facility was always so happy. She smiled at everyone and her laughter filled the halls with joy.
Then one year on Veteran’s Day stood up and told us the story about how she sent her new husband off to war and he never came home. She wept as she told us this story. It broke my heart. She never remarried.
I wondered how she was 85-years-old and so happy. I realized watching her that happiness is a choice. I think I’d like to be old and happy someday despite my challenges in life.
2. Wisdom Comes Through Experience
When I worked with the elderly population, one of the things that constantly amazed me was the stories they would tell about the lessons life taught them. As a recent college graduate I was still towards the beginning of my life’s story and I soaked up their wisdom.
I wondered many times, how did they know so much? How did they get through and experience so many hard things? How did they become so patient?
Experience is a great teacher. Having now experienced a car accident, chronic migraines, and having children on the autism spectrum I too have learned that experience is a great teacher. Wisdom truly does come after going through hard things.
Lean into the hard experiences of life and pray for the wisdom to come sooner vs. later. Then use your experience and the empathy it has created within you to help others going through hard times. You will be better for it.
3. Embrace Aging
I got my first gray hair when I was pregnant with my first child. I think it was indicative of what was coming. I was vain enough to pull that white hair right out of my head. No way was I going to have a white hair at age 24!
And yet my gray hairs kept growing in (curly I might add). I quickly realized I couldn’t pull them out anymore or I would go bald. The wrinkles on my face didn’t just show up overnight.
I think I am going to embrace getting older. After all, I have earned every gray hair on my head and those wrinkles have been made by smiles and laughter, tears and worry through the years. With age comes some wisdom and wrinkles:).
I think some of the cutest people are the old ladies and men that have their white hair and smiles on their faces. They don’t try to hide that they are old, they simply live and embrace their changing bodies and their extra pounds and their wrinkles and their gray hairs.
So, my friends let’s choose happiness, learn wisdom through our experiences, and embrace aging as it comes. As my mother-in-law says, “Aging is a privilege” because the alternative is death.