It’s very hard to think nice thoughts when your hair is getting thinner, your waist is getting thicker and your memory is experiencing intermittent disconnects in reception. Sometimes it seems doctor’s appointments, hospital visits and talking back to the television set is the only social life we have.
Staying motivated is tough
Getting older isn’t always about carefree living, travelling, and exciting new adventures like we see in those bloody advertisements. Sometimes it’s about living day-to-day with health issues, money problems, chronic pain, the death of a loved one and an ever-shrinking world. We try the 10 Senior Secrets to get unplugged, but nothing’s working.
There are days when we need a good kick in the bloomers to get unstuck from feeling that our quality of life is controlled by the compartments in our pill box containers. Or when happiness is measured by the availability of a handicap parking spot at the hospital.
There have been many articles written about the joys and challenges of aging. And most of us try to do what we can to support each other and be the best we can be in our crusty rusty years.
But if our thoughts are not in a good place, we can find it difficult to read about others who seem to be managing so much better than we are, as they travel the world, engage in sports activities or discover a new winter-of-the-soul love interest. For the rest of us, living our lives can become a challenge when we have to compromise or eliminate activities that bring us joy.
Wacky Poetry for the Mind
Some time ago, I found an ancient poem written over one thousand years ago by the Chinese poet, Hanshan. It came on a day I needed it most and it spoke volumes to me in its simplicity. I would like to share it with you:
Bugs in a Bowl
We’re just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say, That’s right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.
Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Say, Hey, how you doin’?
Say, Nice Bowl!
Choosing what we see
When I sent the above poem to a friend of mine, she said, “It makes you want to think ‘nice.’”
Sometimes it’s hard for us to think ‘nice’ all the time, when we’re in pain and have to limit our activities. But Hanshan reminds us to practice mindfulness and stay connected to our world…and to our fellow bugs. His simple words suggest that moping and feeling sorry for ourselves can lead to isolation and despair.
Studies have shown that social interaction is critical for our well-being and ongoing mental development as we age. Regardless of our limitations, we need to remember to interact with others and continue doing things we love, regardless of our situation. And that usually means being in a constant state of renewal, as we adjust and regroup into our newly morphed selves on any given day.
12 Tips for a Happy Bowl
As a senior Living with Lupus and attending to a husband with many health challenges, my limitations seem to grow daily. But I am determined to enjoy life regardless of the ever-changing view. Here are some things I do that work for me
- Attend a monthly book club meeting with eleven other amazing women.
- Reach out to an online community on fabulous websites like Sixty and Me.
- Use my texting and Facebook skills to stay in touch with friends and family.
- Relax my mind and body through meditation and visualization exercises.
- Practice gentle yoga and deep breathing exercises every single day.
- Water-dance in the pool as I listen to music with my waterproof iPod.
- Share all the little joys and quiet times with my husband.
- Enjoy every minute I can with my daughter and granddaughter.
- Read good books to inspire and broaden my outlook.
- Play online scrabble and connect with people from around the world.
- Join a small group of wonderful friends every month for a pub night out.
- Write blog posts for people like you, on things that matter to me.
So to all my fellow bugs out there – Hey! How you doin’?
What things do you do to stay happy and connected in your bowl?
Please leave a comment and join the conversation.
See you between the lines,