Feisty: “to be bubbly, energetic, zesty, lively, and scrappy.” So how do we incorporate these qualities into our lives in our senior years? As we age it is so easy to stay home, thinking about the past or about the reasons we never do the things we want to do.
My first recommendation is to train yourself to say, “Well, it could be worse!” then think of possible situations that are worse! If you can not honestly say something worse then try some of these suggestions to add some zest to your life.
Since excuses are obviously not going to make your life more zesty, the following list may be useful.
1. Have some fun!
You have likely worked hard all of your life, it is time for you to relax and reap the benefits of your labors, whether you are working or retired. Take time to enjoy life. Go somewhere you have never been before. It doesn’t have to be far away. Museums, parks, or events are always available. Communing with nature can be uplifting. When you have lost a lot of mobility, you may enjoy listening to e-books; watching Netflix or cable TV; taking on-line courses in whatever interests you; going through pictures, playing games or putting jigsaw puzzles together. There are a multitude of things we older people can do if we are not as mobile as we once were.
2. Have a Dream or Goal
At least dream about something you wish you could do and study about it. You can learn how to do anything from the internet, YouTube or just look up what you want to know more about in a book. You never know when any knowledge you have might come in handy.
3. Let your hair grow in silver or white.
Or if you are balding, don’t fight it. Accepting yourself as you age is sometimes hard to do but may lead to a more satisfying life and better acceptance of the inevitable process of aging. Live your life the way you want to live it as long as you are safely able to do so. If your friends think you have gone over the edge, then find friends who will go over the edge with you!
4. Take a class.
Take the classes you always wanted to take (but always found a reason not to) at the Senior Center, YMCA or at the local, junior or community college. You will stimulate your mind by learning something just for the fun of it! In the past five years I studied on my own briefly or in classes: Feng shui; Spanish: water color; Tai chi; Native American culture; legends; Sudoku; Reiki, (a healing modality using energy; belly dancing, (though not recommended if you have severe back problems); or any topic that grabs my interest. All of this keeps my mind sharp and makes my life more interesting.
You can get your body moving around more which will improve circulation, improve feelings of self worth and help your stiff joints. You will meet new younger friends too, giving you new understanding about younger generations. If you can’t go to classes but have a computer, there are free instructions about anything on You Tube!
When you are having a rough day with arthritis or feeling tired, but have to go to the grocery store, don’t say, “I’ll tough it out.” Find a scooter. (Of course do not use the last scooter just for fun!) Sit on the scooter, study how to use it and set the speed on slow until you feel comfortable driving one. They are wonderful mood elevators when you are a competent driver and can scoot around and back up. Some people will look scared and some will grin or complement you on your driving skills. Honking the horn is fun too.
6. Joke and Kid.
Tell your children you are considering getting a tattoo or a body piercing and sit back and get a kick out of their reactions until you tell them you were kidding. (I actually did this once and was amazed that they believed me!)
Volunteer in any organization that interests you. There are tons of places needing help with simple things like reading to children at the library or in the class room, making meals or serving at the local soup kitchen. Animal shelters always need someone to help with various chores. Military support groups need volunteers to answer the phone, cut out articles for their scrapbooks, or just sit with a wounded vet. There is nothing more rewarding than helping another person or animal who needs a little attention.
8. Get fresh air.
Even when you don’t feel like it, get out of the house! Go sit at a mall and watch people. There is a myriad of funny things happening at malls at different times of the year. Go with a friend to the mall and just sit and casually watch, don’t stare at the people walking by. Observe their expressions, body language, clothes, and what they have bought, how they are acting with the person they are with. Then imagine stories about them and share the with your friend. I saw this done on a TV show or movie once.
9. Act like a kid.
Go do something you loved to do as a child. Get on a swing, go swimming in a pool, go to the beach with a friend (with sunscreen on and proper protection) and make the sand castle you never got to make as a child because you didn’t know how; or as a parent because the kids wanted to make it themselves. If you don’t remember how to act like a kid, spend time with your grandkids! They will be glad to show you how!
10. Love yourself.
Look in the mirror everyday and be thankful that you are you. Look honestly at your accomplishments in life, and your failures. Realize that they all worked together to make you the you that you are today. The you that your spouse loves (or loved), your family loves, your friends love, your pet loves. Then love yourself because you did the best you could under the circumstances you were dealt in your life. Be thankful, look in the mirror, smile, and say, “I love you, you feisty senior!”