Aging comes with new challenges, but there are so many gifts I have received along the way. It’s hard to choose just three. In a broad sense, aging has allowed me to increase the close relationships I have with friends and family. It seems so obvious, but as I age, the people I care most about are aging right along with me. Each encounter is enriched by our common experiences. There is little need to hide stuff or to pretend I’m someone other than the real me. The robust honesty that was hard for me to attain in younger years becomes the fabric of meaningful relationships. It’s somewhat like reading an outstanding novel. As the chapters clip along, I become more engaged with the characters, with the sub-plots, and I’m eager to turn the next page. My days are like pages in that book. I’m eager to move on, to read more and find out what happens.
Here are the top three things I’ve learned so far:
1. Sneak around with wise people
Let’s face it. Most people I hang out with today are smarter than me. And that’s by design. For decades of adulthood, I failed to recognize I should be proactive, to spend time with bright men and women who could gift me so much wisdom. I used to spend my spare time like a pinball, bouncing off whoever might be around. Now, when I spot a person who has special knowledge or skills I desire, I find ways to engage and hopefully build an ongoing relationship. It’s like being on a treasure hunt. Then I work hard at staying very quiet and just listening. That was hard for me early on, but I’m getting better.
2. Be kind
I’ve learned that kindness brings out the best in me and others. I never thought of myself as being thoughtless or mean spirited. However, I didn’t recognize until later in life that I needed to be more aware, more mindful of the many little opportunities each day when I can sprinkle kindness toward those around me. Kindness is one of those gifts that come right back at me tenfold.
3. Store happy memories
I’ve been blessed by having many happy moments in life. In my mind, I’ve developed my own personal library system where I can bring up wonderful memories just at the right time. If I am lonely or sad or fearful, I can call on another period when I was full of joy. With practice, I’ve been able to make those great times come back in vivid color and wipe out the negative thoughts.
On the whole, aging has given me a sense of peace I did not experience in earlier decades. I have quit trying to catch up with the “people next door.” Rather, I am humbled by being a part of a tiny patch of humanity. At my age, I want to serve, I want to help. I’m confident there is a reason I exist. My job is to do the best with what I have to offer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Don Kuhl has brought inspiration and transformation to millions by creating Interactive Journals that help people reflect on where they’ve been, where they are, and where they wish to go. Now it’s Kuhl’s turn to share his stories of growing older and the wisdom he has gained along the way.
Before starting The Change Companies, Don gained wisdom through many failures: He flunked out of undergraduate school and became an outstanding Master’s Degree recipient. He struggled with alcohol abuse and helped millions of people recover from addiction. He suffered several financial setbacks only to found many financially prosperous corporations.
He is the author of Changing with Aging: Little Stories, Big Lessons