A healthy, fit older man kayaks in a secluded wilderness


Embrace aging for a better future

In a culture that rewards youth, we're often taught to either defy or deny aging. We may focus on looking younger. Or, we may delay efforts to lose weight, eat healthy, travel or pursue a passion, figuring there's always next year.

However, aging is a transition and it can be an extremely positive and transformational process if it's embraced; a defy or deny approach actually puts us at a disadvantage. Also, the sooner we awaken to the reality of aging, the more choices we have to make it a good experience. Paying attention today can impact how we feel five, 10, 15 and even 25 years from now.

It's a rare person who has not heard the key to staying healthy as you age is eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and managing weight and stress. In fact, we get bombarded with this information.

The harder part is moving beyond knowing to doing. Part of the work involves envisioning what you would like your life to look like 15 years from now and figuring out ways to get there.

Start by asking yourself questions like these: 

  • What is your vision of yourself and your well-being in five, 10, 15 years?
  • Why is it important to you to make a change, or changes, toward this vision?
  • What would this change mean for your life? How does it fit with your values? How would it make your life easier or more challenging?
  • What are the barriers you face in making this change? Are you over-committed? Do you doubt your ability to change? How do you tolerate and manage anxiety around change?
  • What would help you overcome those barriers?
  • What are you willing to change now? What small thing can you do regularly to move toward this change?
  • Can you engage a friend or family member to help? What kind of support would feel good? From whom? What interferes with you asking, accepting and receiving support?
  • How can you be kind to yourself and allow room for some setbacks while undergoing change?

Aging in our culture isn't revered. Unless we have some sense of relevance in our lives, and underlying self-esteem, we may feel pushed aside as we move into our senior years. But there are ways we can break down barriers to healthy living to create a life that brings us joy in the long run.

It's never too early to start.

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