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? 

fullsizeoutput_f98.jpeg

My vibrant friend, Maxine, on her birthday.

 

Let Your Habits Be Your Servants

’Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. Benjamin Franklin

About forty percent of our daily life is habitual action. Brushing our teeth, making our bed, drinking coffee, going for a morning walk, checking social media. When, where, what and how much we eat and even how we interact with our friends and family—all largely based on habits. According to Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: Mastering the Habit of Our Everyday Lives, “Habit is a good servant but a bad master.” Habits can help us make positive change but they can also be saboteurs of our progress.

Often the most effective way to adopt a new habit is to replace a bad one with a better one. Diverting a river is better than damming it up. Watch for triggers that might set you back including boredom and stress. Commit to at least sixty days to establish a new habit. 

Affirmation: I can change my habits.

Coaching questions: What bad habit would you like to change? What good habit would you like to develop? What difference will it make in your life? Is the change powerful enough to pull you through sixty days of establishing a new path? Commit to it. You can do this!

What Changes Are In Your Future?

Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, author

When my late husband, Keith, literally dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of fifty three, I experienced first hand the “great and sudden change” Shelley is talking about. This year, we will all experience change–hopefully not great and sudden but one never knows. Basic self-care practices—good sleep, healthy food, exercise, taking breaks— can help you navigate future change more smoothly.

“Start making small changes when you’re not stressed,” says psychiatrist Henry Emmons, MD, author of The Chemistry of Calm. “Think of it like exercise. If you’re trying to get in shape, you don’t try to do a month’s worth of workouts in one day.”

The same is true when training yourself to deal with the stress response. The more you learn how to calm your mind when your stress is small, the better prepared you will be for the big change that will inevitably come your way. 

Affirmation: I am ready for change.

Coaching questions: Consider how well you handle change. What will you do to prepare yourself now to handle change more effectively in the future? What difference might it make? 

Discovering the Heart of Change

Conversation is the currency of change. Margaret Wheatley, American author

In a time when there is great division in our country and around the world, conversation is paramount. Change happens when “the other” has a name, a face, and is willing to honestly share his or her views. You may still have differing opinions. However, when there is conversation, there is the possibility of relationship, understanding, and change.

It’s comforting to gather with like-minded friends and colleagues. It’s a growth opportunity to expose oneself to diverse ideas, cultures, ages, life-styles. 

Affirmation: I want to be in conversation.

Coaching questions: In the past, what conversations have helped you change and grow? What conversation do you need to have today?

Consider Going On a Media Diet

It turns out what you watch, read, listen to and play can affect your mood, temper, and even how generous and kind you are to others afterwards. Elaine Shpungin Ph.D., founder of Conflict 180 

If you are coping with significant change in your life, you may want to consider going on a media diet. Maybe you’re a fan of violent or dramatic games or shows. During a time of transition—the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss—when your emotions are close to the surface, you might opt for comedy instead. 

According to research by the Mayo Clinic, laughter calms the stress response and releases endorphins. Also consider your social media exposure. Although you may receive support from your friends via social media, managing your own feelings can be difficult enough without comparing yourself to others.

Affirmation: I take note of my media habits.

Coaching questions: How is your media consumption affecting your actions or mood? If changes are needed, what steps will you take this week?

IMG_2691.jpg

Editing Your Life

Good or bad, change is a foray into the unknown. Bahram Akradi, CEO of Life Time Fitness.

We all know that change is part of the human experience. We deal with change everyday whether it is in our relationships, our body, our environment, or our attitude. The world is constantly in a state of change. You’d think we’d have it figured out by now but change is frequently difficult.

The manuscript for my book is due back today from the editor. All the hard work I put into writing what I thought were the best sentences, paragraphs, profound thoughts and snappy conversation will be in question. Well not all of it I hope, but editing is about helping an author create their best piece of work. I’m ready for the change suggestions that I know are coming. Will it be easy? No! It’s the most difficult part of being a writer. Will I get through it? Yes, because I’m committed to making a difference and doing my best work. 

Affirmation: I can make changes.

Coaching questions: What needs “editing” in your life? What changes will it bring about? Will you make them? 

God’s Best Idea

From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off. Max Lucado, author and pastor

My Girl Talk God Talk group is reading Grace by Max Lucado. If you think the turning of the leaves, the first snowfall, a new born baby, or the Grand Canyon are evidence of God’s greatest work, wait until you experience grace. Lucado explains it this way, “God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside downness about it. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.” 

For me, grace is more than forgiveness, more than the power to change and move forward. For me, God’s grace changed my heart and enabled me to forgive myself. 

Affirmation: I am changed by grace.

Coaching questions: What do you know about grace? How has it changed your life? Are you in need of grace? Consider reading Grace. Lucado’s books have been read by over 100 million people around the world.  

IMG_2634.jpg