Have you noticed that many of us are sensitive when it comes to growing older? Some of us don't talk about how old we are, and we use politically-correct language when referring to those of us who have more life experience. We hear words like "old" or "elderly" less frequently — and opt for language that is less stigmatizing. One of my favorites is "seasoned"!
This sensitivity most likely boils down to fear. Most of us don't like the thought of aging. It's not that we don't want to grow older chronologically — who doesn't aspire to living to a ripe, old age?
What we don't like is all the uncomfortable things that seem to accompany aging — like a decline in our physical and mental functioning, chronic illness, less energy, and assorted aches and pains. All of that has to do with biological aging.
Is there a way to have one without the other?
At this point, there is no fountain of youth. Ongoing research, however, is making it clear that there are many choices that we can make to optimize our well-being as we accumulate years.
What does it look like to be "well-seasoned"?
Here are six keys to living well on purpose, and increasing the odds that your golden years will be truly golden.
- Be Well-intentioned — Optimizing your well-being does not happen by accident — especially in the culture that we currently inhabit. There are many easy choices that won't be in your best interest, so you can't just go with the flow. Being well-intentioned means making a conscious decision to cultivate wellness. As you move forward, making optimal choices will require that you hone your attention and intention. Mindfulness training is a wonderful tool for that.
- Be Well-aligned — A decision to be more purposeful in your self-care is an important step, but it is only the beginning. Once you have made that decision you will need to strengthen your motivation by clarifying the vision and values that are inspiring to you. Moving forward, you will need to consistently align and re-align with these motivators so that you can stay energized and on course.
- Be Well-nourished — Nourishing yourself well involves making healthy choices about food, as well as the things that "feed" your mind and your spirit. As you acquire experience, you will have an opportunity to deepen your wisdom about what you need to be your best. Part of honoring your uniqueness is learning to give yourself what you need.
- Be Well-rested — Stress and inadequate sleep are enormous problems for many people in our culture, but getting enough rest and relaxation are critical to maintaining optimal health. Maintaining the time and conditions to promote these healthy habits will enhance your resilience.
- Be Well-challenged — Appropriate challenges to our minds, spirits and bodies help us to grow. Likewise, not using these gifts consistently leads to declines in functioning. Find activities that you enjoy that stimulate these aspects of your being. As the saying goes: "You rest, you rust."
- Be Well-balanced — As you pursue your wellness goals, it is important to regularly assess whether you are focusing your attention and energy in balanced ways. Wellness is about progress and growth, not perfection. Sometimes, when we are focused on one goal, we lose sight of another. Periodic check-ins — with yourself, a trusted friend or family member, or a coach are helpful opportunities to make sure that you are honoring all the values that are most important to you.
What about you? What wellness wisdom would you add to this list? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.