I originally wrote about the first Vitality Element, Acceptance, back in April, 2012, nearly two years ago. Some of my thoughts have evolved since then, but much remains the same. People are still unwilling to accept the reality of the aging process and how it is affecting them, and that unless they take some positive actions, their bodies will continue to deteriorate. Their attitude will be more judgmental of themselves and others, and unaccepting of “what is” and what they can do about it.
For example, some people have asked me not to use the language, “getting older” in workshops or writings. Here’s a dialogue.
“Please don’t use the term getting older.”
Me: “Well we are getting older aren’t we?”
“Yes, but I don’t like the words?”
Me: “Why not?”
“Well, I don’t like to think of myself as old.”
Me: “O.K., don’t think of yourself as old. How do you want to think of yourself? What term do you want to use instead? Senior citizen? Mature adult? Elderly?”
Personally, I prefer “senior”. I like getting a “senior coffee” at the coffee shop. I like “senior discounts” for things. I like “senior’s day” at the movies. But some people have told me they don’t like “senior”. “Why not?”, I ask. “Because it makes me feel old”, they answer.
The point is, it doesn’t matter what we choose to call ourselves to pretend it makes us feel good. We are getting older every minute, every hour, every day, and unless we want to live with our head in the sand, we had better accept the fact that we are aging.
Here’s the real question. Can you look at yourself non-judgmentally, and just observe “what is”? Can you be brutally honest with what you observe and just accept what is there without resisting what you see as being your true currently reality? Just observe without judging . . . and accept what’s really there?
Are you aging? Are you overweight? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you active? Do you have like-minded friends? Do people like to be around you? Do you like being around others? What is your posture like? Are you eating well? What is your reason for getting up in the morning? Do you even have a reason, or are you just existing throughout the day? What is your passion? Who are you? Can you even ask yourself these questions? Can you be brutally honest with yourself?
When you can look at yourself from the outside, as a disinterested party, and not resist the reality that you observe, nor judge it, then you have found your starting point . . . your honest current reality. You can’t move in any direction, nor can you stand still, until you accept that current reality as “what is”. And that’s just Step One.
There are certain physiological and psychological things that happen as you get older. Among these are:
- Maximum heart rate decreases
- Breathing capacity decreases
- Muscle Mass decreases
- Balance decreases
- Coordination decreases
- Infrastructure (ligaments, tendons, joints) lose their elasticity
- Bone mineral density decreases and bones get porous and brittle
- Your posture becomes slumped over.
- People start to “shuffle” when you walk
- You become more susceptible to chronic and lingering illnesses.
- You become depressed more easily
- You become more set in your ways and lose resiliency for the changes that come with life.
- You become grouchy and become curmudgeons (commonly known as “old f—ts”.
In other words, your bodies start to decay and your attitude changes (and not for the better). Not a pleasant forecast is it? But that’s what happens if you don’t accept the reality of the aging process.
This is reality. This is truth. What is . . . is. Accept it or reject it in your own mind, but the truth is that that these things will happen.
But if you move your body the way nature intended, your bones won’t get brittle as fast, your muscles won’t atrophy as fast, your blood won’t stagnate as fast, your heart may tick vigorously a little while longer. If you exercise and move your body daily, you can live a long, healthy and energy packed life, filled with possibilities that most seniors aren’t even conscious of right now.
April 1st (April Fools Day), I’ll be 74 years old. I’m just a kid compared to some of the people I talk to. I know that my body will eventually deteriorate and that I am happily delaying the inevitable. That’s what I want, of course. I accept that it is happening but I also accept that I can significantly slow the process and virtually eliminate the symptoms. I want a long life with a sudden decline, rather than a long life with a slow decline. I can do something about it . . . so I do . . . because I can. Remember the slogan, “I do because I can, I can because I do.” I can do the things that allow me to feel good, or I can choose to NOT do them. It’s a choice, and it’s mine to make.
The choice of how you perceive yourself is yours to make. Not only is your physical condition a part of it, but your mental attitude is a major part of it. If you pretend to play “young” but feel old, then you are deceiving yourself and others around you will know it. If you really feel alive and fit, it will be, in part, a reflection of your physical body . . . and others will know that you have a true youthful energy . . . a Come Alive Mind and Body.
So the rest of the week do this. Take a real personal inventory of yourself as you really are. Ask yourself the questions above. Be objective, without judgment and with brutal honesty. Who are you, really. What is your current reality. Then you’ll be ready to move on . . .