Thursday, September 23, 2021

Aging--where's the joy?


Image via Gerd Altmann of Pixabay

Can age bring joy?

Can you change your perspective on aging, so that you can find new joy every single day? Are there circumstances that prevent that? I don't know the answers, but I believe and hope you can actually train yourself to intentionally appreciate life more than a lot of folks do. 

Do you ever think how much you've changed over the years? Okay, okay, no I wasn't thinking about the wrinkles, the sags, the varicose veins. There's a universal distaste for what happens to our bodies with the advancement of age. The brown spots, the lumps, the inability to jump lithely up and down stairs . . .dang, don't you hate that?

Life changes

You think about life differently. There are cares you never paid much attention to when you were younger. It's as if one day you wake up to the shocking truth that you really are getting older. It happens when the roofing guy tries to sell you roof tiles guaranteed for 30 years, and you do the math. Uh Oh! Don't think I'll be needing those!

Conversations change. Your peers mostly have grey or greying hair, except for the ones who keep colouring. Perms that everyone used to have are now the hallmark of a woman who simply hasn’t realized they’re passé. 

You watch the obituary page in your local newspaper, and say how shocking it is that Mary has gone. After all, she was only 68. You Inwardly congratulate yourself though. After all, you’ve made it through to 78 with little trouble, all things considered. But there is a feeling like each night might be your last, so what nightie should you wear? 

Some conversation topics predominate

Your health for instance.  That's a biggie. These days you find you can't go anywhere without that subject coming up. All around you are people on walkers, trundling their oxygen tanks around. The latest models in wheelchairs and sporty golf cart thingys are sad reminders of the days when you got around unaided, and had the wind blow through the sun roof of your nice car. 

There's a certain helplessness too in knowing your mind is that of a delayed 18 year old, but the body simply continues on its path of destruction.

Insurance is another topic. People congratulating themselves on having plenty. People having anxiety attacks because they don't. Pressures to buy this kind or that. It's all about marketing and money.

Money becomes a big thing too. Will you have enough when the ravages of time wreak their worst on you? Will you become a burden to your children, who have a whole lot of concerns with their own families? Will you end up in a nursing home, and can you afford that?

It’s tantalizing. Now, for the first time in your life, you should be able to draw on the fruits of your labor. Working hard. Living frugally, because you had this sense that you might need enough money to look after yourself in old age. But at the same time you smugly saved your hard earned shekels, advanced age seemed comfortably far away. 

At that time you weren’t really thinking too much about cruises and trips to exotic places. Paying off the mortgage was a big one. People actually had mortgage burning ( real document!) parties. Then they settled down to being grandparents, helping the kids (who now have your grown up grandkids) and living in a comfy home until they died.

You know the way you get emotionally  charged up by greedy politicians who swear they’re going to change senior things for the better? How that flicker of hope inside you just refuses to die, no matter how many times you hear the nonsense? 

Well, you come to realize a very similar feeling flares up when you contemplate the idea of taking a vacation - just you and someone of your choice - to some exotic destination.

True, you’ll hopefully  never find a bed as comfortable as your luxury mattress you spent so much time and money on. But we’re talking about roughing it in the style only older folks can manage.  

First consideration is the bed. Second, the toilet facilities. Somehow the bladder or even sphincter muscles don’t always work the same way  as they used to. 

So ahead of taking a vacation you need to decide on the following:

Can you afford it? How much are you willing to pay for memories? Late though they may be?

Are you traveling solo? Most accommodation deals favour two bodies in a room. However many bus tours have several single seniors aboard! 

When do you want to go? Wherever you plan, the shoulder months are good to consider.

You can tell a lot of things by the weather too. I used to love the heat. Couldn't get enough of it, baking in the sun, slathered in coconut oil. Those were the good old days, before the protection of sun block lotion. Now, thanks to that, we have become really good clients for the dermatologists.

I don't love the heat any more. Neither do a lot of people I know. That's seems to be part if the aging process too. It's like your body thermostat gives inaccurate readings of what's comfortable. On the other hand, I can't stand cold either. I like even temperatures. Preferably with rain every evening, and mild sun every day. That would be good.

I find most of the time I'm pretty content these days. I'm fortunate to be healthy, not to have any grey hairs, not to worry about makeup,  just moisturiser and sunscreen. (We do learn from our mistakes!)

Who are you?

After the first shock of actually realizing that your body is aging, and not that gracefully, it’s time to evaluate what kind of person you want to be. 

Your actions at this time of life will determine how you are regarded by your fellow agers and others. 

Will you spend too much time griping incessantly about change, or will you find joy and embrace the richness that change can bring?

Stepping out and spreading your acquired wisdom can be regarded as value by other generations.  But do it kindly, and without criticism. No one said you can only have friends within your own, and new friends bring new joy.  But always remember, too much re hashing of old stories is boring. Very.

Giving a listening ear is perhaps one of the greatest ways you can serve others,  and in turn reap great joy in the aging phase of life. People love to talk about themselves. If you become a great listener you’re golden.  Your focused  listening ear becomes a magnet. Hearing aids have nothing to do with this ability.  It’s all about generosity of giving something only you can afford.

Wacky adds interest

Be slightly wacky. People expect that of you as you go through aging, but make it nice wacky. You’ll think of ways you can give to find joy. My personal enjoyment comes with buying 10 scratch ‘n win lottery tickets and randomly giving them out to folks that look as though they could use some hope! Their looks of delight bring me great joy. 

Maybe each day we live should be a day of gratitude that we are still here, able to do the very best for ourselves and others.  You can consider it as an adventure towards patience. Aging actually may have its benefits. I can't remember thinking like this in my younger years. 

If you have enjoyed this philosophizing please consider commenting below. It’s free, and your email address is never shared. You don’t even need to use your real name!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Apologize - why, when and how!

Growing up, our parents used to teach the principles of  compassion to you when you were nasty to another kid. You'd first of all have to explain to their satisfaction how you would feel if someone acted that way towards you. Then, once they were sure it was genuine, and a suitable reflective time had gone by, you, the miscreant, would apologize. Sometimes it was very hard to actually feel sorry, especially when you had to apologize to a sibling. Nevertheless, it was expected you’d see the light.

Deceitful behavior, when it was discovered, was another reason for an apology. Lying was part of that one too. Bullying was bad, and not tolerated, as it was unfair to gang up on a kid. You'd be ashamed, and probably have to apologise, not only to the victim, but the parents too. 

Hard to describe what shame is these days. It used to be a feeling you got deep inside you, something very unwelcome. You’d not want to repeat that, so you resolved privately not to do whatever it was, ever again.

Schoolyard fights happened between boys, and it was always one on one. No gang of kids gathered around shooting videos of someone’s pain, while hoping to go viral on YouTube. Come to think of it, there was no YouTube either, and viral hadn’t yet entered the lexicon, except as it related to a truly terrible disease spread.

Again, it was better that parents weren't involved in this kind of thing, as they would definitely disapprove, and painful consequences would be applied. But you always knew, with these more extreme behaviors that the head of the school would undoubtedly report to your parents, and the latter were usually supportive of the teachers, not you!

Image via Gerd Altmann of Pixabay

Professional Apologists

Have you noticed how apologies are becoming as swift and meaningless as a meteorologist’s  weather forecast? There’s now a specific formula for apologies in the corporate world. 

Thank the marketing folks for that again. Their wisdom of the day demands the person who has engaged in mass fraud or worse, will apologise, first and foremost, before bringing in the multiple jackal lawyers.

That’s not quite as straightforward as it first appears. There’ve always been brave, hard-nosed folks who dare to flout the law or society rules. It’s called doing the deed you know is wrong, and then asking  for forgiveness later.  This has become more and more popular as folks have come to recognize the consequences for engaging in this behaviour attract few penalties.

In the dog-eat-dog world of corporations, apologies are public ways to convince the world of your sincerity, even though you’ve hired a team of professional apology writers to do the foundational work for you. There are so many apologies out there now, it would be impossible and very boring to relate them. Just think of the recent spate of #me too examples - if you care to!

Of course those apologists are usually men. Even though their moms presumably gave them the same apology training as young children, it doesn’t seem to stick like it does with the girls.  Studies show women apologize with much more ease and more often than men.

Researchers analyzed the number of self-reported offenses and apologies made by 66 subjects over a 12-day period. And yes, they confirmed women consistently apologized more times than men did. But they also found that women report more offenses than men. So the issue is not female over-apology. Instead, there may be a gender difference in what is considered offensive in the first place.

—Scientific American

People grade apologies, as being best or worst. They’re relished all over social media, sort of like the village gossip on mega steroids. Try this one, a hedge fund guy who lost all his clients money.

Hedge fund manager's apology video goes viral

Not to be outdone in the potty mouth rendering, Samantha Bee ( whoever she is) delivered a truly disgusting remark about Ivanka Trump. No shame. People go so far as to excuse her, saying she routinely  uses these expletives. What used to be a case for parents bringing in the wash your mouth out with soap, young lady and then apologize consequence is now prehistoric. Well, she did apologize, saying she’d “…crossed the line.” She didn’t say she’d change her behaviour though.

I guess that used to be the point of an apology. You reflected, you came to a realization that you’d hurt someone or many people by your actions or words. You understood something needed to change in you and your behaviour. 

It helps if you get that an apology is not to make yourself feel better. It’s to help the person or people you’ve wronged feel better.  Psychology Today has figured out a good apology has five essential components:

1. A clear ‘I’m sorry’ statement.

2. An expression of regret for what happened.

3. An acknowledgment that social norms or expectations were violated.

4. An empathy statement acknowledging the full impact of our actions on the other person.

5. A request for forgiveness.

Sounds a lot like you used to learn from your parents.

Number four on this list is interesting, and probably the one least seen in our frantic, sped-up lives of today. Putting yourself in the shoes of that wronged person is what keeps society kind and helpful. 

Canadians are well known for their habit of apologizing for perceived infractions they’ve committed. They’ll apologize for all kinds of small things in life. But it’s kinda nice. Sometimes they’re even aware an apology isn’t necessary. One of my biggest smiles happened after I apologized to our dog when we both wanted to go through a doorway at the same time! 

Whenever I watch TV I’m moved to offer silent apologies to the small children who might be doing the same. Surely watching the uncaring behaviours of adults depicted on the screen must in time desensitize them to feeling compassion for others?

Did you get “the training” of apologizing when you were growing up? Please feel free to share your insights in the comments section below. You don’t need to use your actual name if you prefer not to, and your email address will never be shared with anyone. Your comments are valuable, and can even be life-changing for some readers.

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