Individual perspectives on aging are so interesting. In conversations with clients, friends, family, it is not unusual for people to bemoan what they are ‘losing’ as they move from their twenties and thirties, into middle age or older. It is so easy to notice that you can’t lift weights like you used to, go up stairs without being winded, or fit into those pants from last summer. The value our society seems to place on being young and fully ‘capable’ makes it hard not to feel like you are falling behind with each passing year.
Recently, we had the chance to gather around a meal with some long time friends. These are folks we have know for over thirty years, raised kids together and with whom we have shared joyous and challenging life experiences. We got to talking about our kids, which parents of any age are apt to do. The theme throughout was not only that of gratitude, for their health and the goodness they are putting out in the world, but acknowledgment that some of that is likely a function of the efforts we made over the years to support and guide them.
This idea of being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor as you get older has, not surprisingly, arisen multiple times since then. This week, a few of my younger coaching clients shared that they were lamenting the changes they were observing in themselves as they aged and were looking for ways to ‘get it back’. I, myself, am not immune to the occasional (OK, regular) shock and dismay that occurs when I look in the mirror and realize that once again, gravity is gaining the upper hand. However, I am also more swiftly able to change the channel on that conversation in my head from one of distress to gratitude. Not only for the fact that I AM ALIVE! Yeah for that!, but also the realization of all that I have easier access to now than when I was younger – appreciation for what is REALLY important, a bountiful set of experiences from which to draw when needed and a vast number of people in my personal and professional tribes from whom I can obtain support and enjoyment. I am clearly reaping the benefits of the work I put in to the various aspects of my life up to this point. When I was in the midst of raising children, working, connecting in my community, I had no idea that I was actually filling a bucket that I could take advantage of later. What a lovely surprise this has been!
No matter your age, you are likely still filling the well from which you can withdraw what you need later on. What would it be like if we could shift the narrative many of us carry from one of burden and drudgery to deliberate creation of a bucket of blessing. As with most things, it’s all about the way in which you choose to look at things. The next time I find myself complaining about something I have to do that is challenging, unfair, burdensome, whatever…, I hope I can instead consider how this might be a deposit into my future joy account instead.