Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Wisdom of Healthy Aging

Many of us have raced and competed our way through life.  We idolize youth and fear aging.  Thus, we hail with admiration the ninety year old skier, the eighty year old hiker, the seventy year old century cyclist and the sixty year old marathon runner.

But what about the millions of baby boomers who have discovered the riches and rewards of healthy living post retirement or after a health scare?  Should we not encourage and applaud their efforts and accomplishments with comparable zeal?

The truth is, wisdom is part of healthy aging, too. Initially, I began to practice yoga in hopes of soothing my lower back pain and easing the tightness in my neck. But it was the wisdom of yoga; learning how to effectively integrate mind, body, spirit and breath that taught me how to be more present in my life and in the world.

Healthy aging is a concept we can all enthusiastically embrace but the reality is that none of us will progress through life’s stages unscathed. Some of us will defy the aging process with body and soul. Some of us will accept age spots and wrinkles with humor and grace. Still others will succumb to chronic anxiety and/or depression resulting from the stressors of aging such as illness, disease, pain, and loss.

None of us really knows how we will face the challenges of aging when confronted with the vagaries of life. Predicting the future is generally considered unreliable and worrying about the unknown is certain to create unnecessary physical and emotional damage. But we can live wisely and make healthy choices. We can show up for our own lives and be emotionally present for our family and friends in good times and bad. We can live each day with purpose and awareness and establish challenges and goals that excite and motivate. We can hike mountains, swim oceans, race for the cure, and walk scenic trails. We can pursue our baby boomer bucket lists with excitement and enthusiasm. 

We may indeed be the healthiest aging generation yet. But remember, the destinations become less meaningful if you haven’t enjoyed the journey.  Finding that balance can be a challenge but wisdom is our reward for reaching our Baby Boomer years.  Pay attention and you will enjoy the experiences more fully and in better health.

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