What does healthy aging really mean? Is it the absence of illness? Being able-bodied into older age? Staying physically fit and eating well? Reaching financial security? Maybe it is finally living in peace. How healthy aging is defined is truly unique to each of us. For some, healthy aging means continuing to learn, grow, change and love ourselves unconditionally at each age and stage of our life.
One of the greatest gifts of aging is that we tend to focus on meaning, purpose and connections, gradually letting go of the mundane and superficial things that can monopolize our thoughts in earlier decades. The things we worried about in our 20’s, 30’s seem less important—grey hairs, wrinkles and extra pounds and comparisons—and are often replaced with self-acceptance, giving and receiving deeper love, practicing forgiveness and pursuing what sets our soul on fire.
When given the choice, most women say that their favorite age is the one they currently are. Ask a woman in her 60’s, 70’s or 80’s how old she feels and you might be surprised to hear she feels decades younger than her chronological age. These women know the secret—healthy aging begins with knowing how to give and receive love, including loving yourself.
Loving yourself and making self-care a priority may seem arrogant or selfish to you, but it is a key to healthy aging—mind, body and spirit. When you love yourself you take better care of your health, your relationships are stronger and you can be true to your life purpose. If loving yourself has been difficult, here are a few ways to begin opening your heart.
Express gratitude regularly for all you have and all you are.
Follow your heart and create your own path through life.
Be authentically you. There is no one just like you in the universe.
Listen to others for deeper understanding, tune into to the desires of your own heart & soul.
Take the time to know who you are today and what you want and need.
Cultivate curiosity about the world around you.
Practice compassion and forgiveness for yourself and others.
Seek ways to laugh, play and create joy each day.
Live in the present. Let go of regrets of the past and worries of tomorrow.
Leave every person and place better than you found them.
You are a unique and precious gift in this world and worthy of love from others as well as from yourself. The hand you hold the longest through life is your own so always include self-love and care in your own definition of healthy aging.
~Dr. Linda Peterson, PhD, MHC, Life Purpose and Health and Wellness Coach