Poet Stephen Levine said, “Part of me is dying, maybe to let the rest of me come to life.” Don’t let chronology, physiology or biology govern your age. Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the great novelist and playwright, wrote, “To remain young in old age is an art. He’s the most fortunate man who can live the end of his life as he lived in the beginning of it.”
At any age, human beings are both – wise and foolish. We are filled with optimism and soured by setbacks. Many people feel ‘old’ in their 60’s while some feel young in their 80’s! Their secret of youth? They have a childlike curiosity for life. And why does one feel ‘old’ in their 60’s? Because they dwell on concerns about aging, inactivity, isolation, illness, disability and death.
Often, others remind us to ‘Act your age’ – but why? What’s wrong with being how you were when this journey of life began and you were filled with wonder and asked several questions? Why give up that sense of wonder and why stop asking questions to widen your mental-horizon as you age?
Each one of us has a child inside us. Don’t let that child perish. Rather, nurture it with resilience, learning, playing, working, curiosity, joy, wonder, optimism, humour and music. On your next birthday, light a candle on your cake and just watch the flame to notice its brightness. You’ll see that although the candle gets smaller and smaller, the flame is as bright at the end of candle’s life as at the beginning. It’s the same with life. It has no AGE when you should ACT in a certain way. Life can shine brightly at any and every moment!!
Our childhood conditionings affect our behaviour in life, especially in old age. But the good news is, we can change our attitude and behavior at any age. In counselling people, I always tell them that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. You can have it right here and now! Decide to incorporate childlike qualities in you – this way you’ll be virtually turning back time and giving birth to the outlook, language and enthusiasm that you need to nurture your inner-child. Don’t ever let your inner-child perish!
Although we change a great deal as we get older, deep within us, we carry certain clearly recognizable styles, traits and attitudes belonging to the child inside us called our inner-child or the past which keeps us young at heart. That child lives in your heart and loves you, even if you were never loved as a child.
To be young at heart, you have to take care of yourself physically. Be physically active. Do your own housework, shopping for veggies, do your own cooking and washing, in short, be self-reliant. Keep yourself fit with yoga, exercise, walking or whatever suits you – be more concerned about your leg-muscles than your wrinkles as you age!
To be mentally young, read whatever you can lay your hands on. Read a new author or a new subject. Talk to people about various topics. Take interest in music, art, culture, fashion, make-up and social-media… in short whatever interests you. To be young spiritually, practice gratitude for anything and everything from morning to night. Don’t just pray for hours like a parrot – it means nothing! Give thanks for your senses…. the eyes with which you can see, read, write, watch TV and admire nature; Ears which can listen to music and the words of endearment from loved ones; Nose that can smell flowers, good-food and your favourite perfume; Mouth, which can kiss loved ones and relish food; Tongue, which can say kind words; and Limbs with which you negotiate your daily living. Give thanks to your amazing immune system, which we think of only when we are sick, a good night’s sleep which we only appreciate when we have insomnia and even electricity at the touch of a switch, which we value only when there’s a power-blackout! All these above are REAL prayers – done daily!
Within all of us are childlike qualities to enjoy life to its fullest given to us at birth, to be cherished, developed and enhanced – not to be denied or discounted. Some adults isolate themselves, living sad and desolate lives within four walls. Even their neighbours don’t know if they’re alive or dead. They have no friends and no conversations with others. To remain vibrant, we need to have conversations and exchange our stories. Until the moment you die, there is life inside you. Don’t extinguish it in the four walls of your home. Don’t let it weigh you down. Chill yaar! Relax! In fact, Chillax, as I always say.
Are you reacting to life as a ‘has been’ or a ‘will be’? Live each day in optimism. Sit in the lap of nature, take walks, walk in the sun, meet people, ask questions, tell stories and share experiences. Develop child-like joy and delight in work and play. Learn, laugh and do it every day, everywhere, with everyone, with everything you have got – become a child once again and revive all that was original, happy, good and true within you – once upon a time!