“We get too soon old and too late smart.” — Old German proverb.
The body becomes more revolting (in more ways than one) and the feeling of time running out is impossible to ignore. But growing old can have its compensations. If we don’t suffer from too much disability, there’s more time to do a lot of things we enjoy. And, of course, if we have grandchildren (and/or great-grandchildren) nearby, they add to our pleasure. I’m referring to senior senior (this is not a typo) citizens — not, for instance, age 60 or so which I wrote about back then when I thought I was over the hill. Yes, we probably have learned much of the following by that time, but add a decade or two and all the better.
By the time we are senior senior citizens, all of that experience must be good for something! Maybe if we had absorbed some of the following when we were younger, life could have been easier and more rewarding. If I were to give a graduation speech, it would include something like the following.
1). Change is inevitable throughout life and being able to roll with the punches — giving, when appropriate, the benefit of the doubt and adjusting to adversity is where it’s at.
2). Best said by Martin E.P. Seligman, author of “Flourish”: “Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have ever tested.”
3). Being open and flexible is the best way to get along in the world. Corollary: Clinging to your beliefs and refusing to consider other possibilities produces mental sclerosis.”
4). Honesty, decency, responsibility and compassion are essential to a rewarding and well-lived life.
5). We, as human beings are out to do ourselves in, and unless we start using our heads AND our hearts, we’re in for big trouble! Corollary: “We have no choice about whether to change the world. We are changing it every day. The choice is only about whether our acts contribute to the world we want … or not,” — Frances Moore Lappe, “Eco-Mind.”
6). There is too little independent thinking going on. This has resulted in too many people following others like sheep.
7). It’s important to be engaged in life — keeping up with current events, contributing to the community and pursuing productive and enjoyable projects.
8). It pays to cultivate rewarding relationships with family and friends all during our lives because they can contribute greatly to life satisfaction.
9). There are many things that, no matter how much we may wish to change, will never change — and we may as well accept that fact.
10). A sense of humor is very valuable and can make a great difference in the quality of life, but only if we can laugh at ourselves.
11). No one will ever truly understand me (sometimes I don’t, either) and in that way, I’m alone in the journey through life.
12). The compulsive accumulation of material objects does not compensate for inner emptiness.
13). A loving person is one who has a healthy love for his/her self and therefore can love others.
14). Feelings are not only emotional, but also physical. Corollary: Joy and happiness are not only good for the soul, but contribute to physical health. Anger and hate are socially destructive and seriously undermine our health and well-being and that of those around us.
15). Obedience, conformity and faith can be mindless and manipulative concepts. Corollary: Just because a person is in a position of power doesn’t mean that he/she knows anything or is correct in his/her beliefs or cares one whit about anyone else. Skepticism is very important.
16). Unrealistic expectations can cause all kinds of turmoil.
17). One important sign of maturity is being able to admit when you are wrong and apologizing.
18). Feeling gratitude really helps make our day. “When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life.” — Seligman.
19). There are a lot of people in his world (often politicians) who focus on nothing but themselves — often manipulating others to suit their own purposes.
20). There is no greater satisfaction in life than seeing indications that we may have, in some way, been a positive influence on others — especially our children.
21). And finally, as Art Linkletter, that old-time philosophic author, wrote: “Old age is not for sissies.”
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 1,000 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.