How to Age Gracefully
When I think of the special things about healthy aging that my mother didn’t tell me, I am overwhelmed with emotion, for my mother did not “tell” me many things. Instead, she showed me, demonstrating and modelling what healthy aging really is. If you want to age gracefully, start incorporating these four simple habits for a long, happy and healthy life.
1) Keep Learning Something New
My mother, Rivy, was absolutely clear in her thinking that education is always important and that learning is a lifelong commitment. She wanted and needed the stimulation of learning new things. In her mid-50s, she returned to high school for her diploma, as she had been forced to leave many years earlier to help earn money for her impoverished family – a decision she had always regretted. And so, coming first in her class some 40 years later was a special accomplishment. She showed me the value of challenging yourself, setting new goals and working hard to achieve them, no matter what your age.
2) Embrace the Real You
Another example of healthy aging was self-acceptance. With maturity, she gained self-confidence and self-acceptance. She had amazing posture, a winning smile, exuberant energy and personality. You simply wanted to be with her.
3) Allow Relationships to Change and Grow
She became more confident in her sexuality and enjoyed her relationship with my dad more and more as time went on. Rivy used to say she had four marriages, all with my dad. At different stages, she had different energies, different areas of focus and different levels of intimacy. Together they were able to grow, thrive, enhance each other’s lives and support each other.
4) Always Try Your Best
And finally, one of her most important lessons: give 100 percent of your effort. Whether it’s for work, children or your own improvement, when you are focused on something, give it your all. And then, when you are ready to move on, give that new effort 100 percent.
My mom had the incredible ability to be a wonderful listener. When she was with me, I felt like I was the most important person to her. And my siblings and, later, her grandchildren all felt the same. She wasn’t distracted by messages, phone calls or texts. And that undivided attention encouraged and helped me develop self-esteem, as my mother believed in me and showed me that belief.
Healthy aging, lifelong choices: That’s what my mother did not tell me but showed me. And I am forever grateful for her lessons.