What’s a Key to Successful Aging?

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Maya Angelou, author

As I speak with women of the Silent and Greatest Generations, I’m learning that attitude is a significant factor in their successful aging. Perhaps, attitude is even a greater influencer than what they eat or how much they exercise.

Maxine, a healthy centenarian with whom I spoke, gave the advice to “live one day at a time.” She embraced the shikata ga nai I wrote about in my last blog—accept what can’t be helped and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Another vibrant woman, age ninety-one, said, “Make it happen.” Her life continues to be built around recognizing  needs in her community then addressing the need. As a younger woman, she helped start a church, the local library, park district (including senior center and teen center), women’s club, artists’ association, historical society and museum. The day I interviewed her, she was preparing for an art show and sale. 

Affirmation: My attitude contributes to my successful aging. 

Coaching questions: What attitudes move you towards aging with grace? What attitudes do you need to tweak? 

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My vibrant friend, Maxine, on her birthday.

 

Lessons Learned As We Age

Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. Mary Pipher, clinical psychologist

In her New York Times article, The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70’s, Pipher writes, “We have learned to look every day for humor, love and beauty. We’ve acquired an aptitude for appreciating life. Gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering.” 

In addition to gratitude Pipher talks about the importance of attitude. As we age, we learn that, though we can’t control all the circumstances of our lives, we can choose how we respond. We can choose to move forward with joy and grace.

Affirmation: I choose gratitude and joy.

Coaching questions: What new joys have you discovered as you’ve aged? How has your attitude made a difference? 

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