Aging Well Revisited
#48 What Role Does Having A Purpose Play?
When I wrote my first article for the newsletter a year ago, my definition of aging well was to be the best I could be despite life’s circumstances.
Recently, I asked three people what their definition of aging well was. One person said that it was synonymous with living well, that it would mean fulfilling her life purpose. I took from our conversation that she had a compelling reason for aging well.
Another person said aging well meant doing what she loved with people she loved. Her purpose is to take care of herself and enjoy life. Boating was her motivation.
The third person I asked said that aging well was about making the most of the situation - preventive care, adapting to changing body and mental abilities, doing things to rejuvenate. He saw his purpose as writing about politics/culture/society and data-science-based investing.
My purpose had been to take care of my husband. Our relationship, our life together, was my reason for getting up in the morning, but he died. Now, what - why bother? I spent the last year thinking about possibilities.
At first I thought my purpose was to age well, period. But the real answer was threefold: to support my family, to live independently, and to write - sharing my life experiences and education with others, so they might benefit from the lessons learned.
With that purpose in mind, I made aging well, as a single 83-year-old woman, my goal for 2021. It was harder than I thought - outdated habits and limiting beliefs, fear, and making difficult choices got in the way.
The literature says that a person must be mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally healthy to age well. I chose to be socially engaged even though my nature is to stay home. I exercised daily, even though exercise was not my favorite activity. I cut my sugar consumption by half even though I love cake and cookies.
My definition of aging well remains the same: being the best I can be despite life’s circumstances, but understanding my underlying purpose influences my willingness to make the hard choices.
I suspect that everyone’s purpose is different. It could be anything from seeing your first grandchild to changing the world. So, I wonder, “Why might you want to age well?
It may not be what Mark Twain had in mind, but my insight was this: if you have a compelling purpose in mind, you will do what it takes to age well and realize that intent.
Just things to consider!