The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 29, 2012

Attitude affects quality of life as we age

Inside Out


— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Oct. 28, 2006. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

-----

It seems to me that fighting the aging process is more a battle of wits than anything else.

Plastic surgery, anti-aging creams and liposuction are among the temporary fixes, but that’s the problem. They’re temporary. They work for a while.

What I need as I plunge toward my own senior citizen status is something that will outlast the arthritis, brittle bones, joint replacements and myriad other health concerns I can expect over the next few years.

I discussed this idea with a friend some time back, and this week, she sent me an e-mail with the following advice on “How to Stay Young.”

— Throw out nonessential numbers. These include age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about those. Essential numbers are the ones you can still read on an eye chart, how many grandkids you have and how many hugs you can rack up from family members and friends every day.

— Spend more time with your cheerful friends. Attitudes are contagious. Friends who constantly whine, nag, complain and never seem to have a good day can wear you down quickly. Don’t discard them. Keep working to help them gain a more positive outlook, but cultivate relationships with people who always manage to see the glass half full.

— Keep learning. If possible, take some classes. Many are offered free or at lower costs to seniors. Courses in computer literacy, crafts classes and hobbies all provide opportunities to feed your brain. A busy mind has less time to focus on the negatives in life.

— Volunteer some time for a good cause each week. Work in a soup kitchen. Provide transportation for someone who can’t drive to the grocery store, a hair appointment or just get out of their home for a few hours.

— Live while you are alive. That means experiencing the full gamut of emotions — grief, gain, loss, love, discord, peace, happiness, love. Take each in stride. Each has a special lesson for you, and how you react to each one will develop new facets of your character.

— Surround yourself with what you love. Get rid of things that burden you and keep only those things that give you pleasure. Whether it’s your family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies or photos, make sure these reminders of good times and happy thoughts are always near you. They will be a refuge on dark days.

— Tell people you love them. Whether they respond in kind is not important. Sharing your love with others will increase your capacity to love. Focus yourself outward, giving as much of yourself, your time and your talents as you can.

All of these things help feed a positive mindset. A strong, healthy mental attitude will carry you through just about any kind of adversity — even old age.