Choose How You Age

Most of the weakness and frailty we blame on aging is not due to getting older but to inactivity.”

~Dottie Billington

When I read the quote above earlier this week in Dottie’s book titled, “Life is an Attitude: How to Grow Forever Better”, it leapt off the page at me, because I’ve also heard complaints from people recently about the negative impacts of aging.  These complaints have come in the form of a frustrated resignation that this deterioration is an inevitable part of aging.  I disagree.

Every day we get to choose to either be sedentary or to carve out time in the day to move our bodies.  If we choose one day not to move about or exercise, that single day really won’t have an impact on us.  However, if we decide day after day not to move or exercise, the compounding of those days over month, years, and decades, will certainly have negative impacts on our physical ability as we age. 

Likewise, if we choose to exercise and move every day, the compounding effects of those decisions over months, years, and decades, will have a positive impact on our physical ability in the years to come.

By exercising our bodies (and our minds!) we’re telling ourselves that we need our bodies and minds to be in peak shape, because we plan on using them.  Here’s the cool think, when we train our minds and bodies to be ready for use… they respond!

What encourages me most to reject the assumption that we deteriorate as we get older, is that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of folks that have been around a lot longer than I have.

I encourage you to reject the false assumption that aging is a downward spiral and that after a certain age, you’re washed.  That statement is only true if you choose to believe it.

So how have you decided that you’re going to age?

You’re Just The Right Person

I was talking with some folks this week that mentioned they occasionally have doubt whether they belong in the career position they’re currently in, which they both enjoy.  It’s interesting to me how often we doubt our own abilities.  Especially when we’re actually doing, and enjoy, the very thing we doubt we can do.  Seems kind of funny when you think about that way. 

Usually, it’s our own thoughts that cause us to doubt our abilities.  Thought like:

  • I’m not smart enough
  • I haven’t been doing this very long
  • I feel like an imposter
  • Other people could do a much better job than I can
  • And a zillion other self-defeating thoughts.

Here’s a bit of encouragement for all of us when we begin to doubt our abilities in what we’re doing. 

If:

  • You are currently doing it
  • You enjoy doing it
  • You are actively learning and applying yourself to get better…

Then you’re just the right person to be doing what you’re doing.

It’s as simple as that.  Sure, you need a basic level of competence.  However, there is nowhere that states we’re required to be the smartest person, or to have all the answers before we can hold a position or offer our skills to the world.  If you hold a position that you enjoy, and are learning and growing in it, then you belong there.

Now that that’s settled, ditch the doubt and move forward, offering your best to what you do.  The world needs what you have to offer.

The Value Of Instructors

Four years ago, I began taking lessons to learn the electric bass guitar.  I’m sure I could have learned to play the bass by watching youtube videos, but I prefer being able to ask specific questions I’m struggling with to a real person versus a search engine.  I also prefer lessons, because the instructor often know things that will be useful that I’m not yet aware of.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been learning about now to write melodies.  When we first started, I was wondering to myself, “how is this going to help be become a better bass player?”  I was really having a hard time connecting the dots between being able to write melodies and being a more skilled bass player.

As we’ve been working on it, I’m seeing how this skill will increase my understanding of music and also help me learn how I can apply this knowledge directly in some of the songs we play on the worship team at church.  It’s a skill I likely wouldn’t have pursued, had I not been taking lessons from someone who knows more about music than me.

While youtube and online search results can be useful in helping you learn a new skill, I think the best way to learn, at least for me, is to enlist the help of a good instructor.  Someone who has been on the same journey, only much longer than I have, and someone who knows what skills would be valuable, that I may not even be considering.

The next time you’re trying to go beyond the basics of learning a new skill, consider enlisting the help of an instructor.  It’s highly probable that you’ll benefit from the knowledge they have that you’re not yet aware of.

Never Get Tired Of It

Last Saturday we spend a great autumn day in Hood River Oregon.  It’s an agriculture-based region on the north side of Mt. Hood known for its apples, pears, and peaches.  In addition to the agriculture, it’s a beautiful part of the state, especially in the Fall when the leaves are changing.  Throw a clear blue sunny sky in there, (along with my sister and brother in law) and a good thing gets exponentially better!

We’ve been going to Hood River in the fall for several years now, and I never get tired of the area’s natural seasonal beauty.  Every year when I see the colors and Mt. Hood’s northern face, I’m awestruck all over again.  I can’t imagine a day when that scene would NOT spark my amazement. 

I think it’s important continue to be amazed by the beauty around us, even if we’ve seen it many times before.   There’s something about a beautiful landscape that, as my wife would say, “fills my bucket”.  I’ll never get tired of noticing such scenery.

Be on the lookout for those scenes that amaze you.  Whether it’s a landscape, a night sky, a trout stream, or any other scene, it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you take the time to stop and notice it, and to remind yourself that you’ll never get tired of experiencing it.

I’ve Got Time For That

Have you ever received a call from someone who is feeling down or overwhelmed, who just needs someone to talk to?  I got a call like that earlier this week while I was at work, and I had a choice to make.  Do I hurry to get them off the phone quickly because I’m busy and have a lot of stuff to get done, or do I carve out some time and listen to them?  I chose the latter.   

Before you think, “Good job!  You made the right choice!”, I must confess.  My initial thought was that I need to get off the phone.  It wasn’t until I started to hear how they were feeling about what they were experiencing, that I felt prompted not to ditch the call, but to actively listen to them.  (I think the Holy Spirit is good at prompting me like that.  I’m trying to get better at actually listening to Him.)     

We’ve all been there.  Sometimes we just want to be heard, to be acknowledged, or to have someone tell us, “Yeah, that sucks!”  or offer us a bit of encouragement.  What a blessing to think that we could provide that to someone else when they need it.

That’s something I’ve got time for.    

I’ll Do It Later…Whenever That Is

I have a lot of positive intentions pop into my head throughout the day.  One that I often get is that I should send a hand-written card to someone I happen to be thinking of.  (In the middle of all the technology around us, I still like sending hand-written cards.  Who’d have thought that going “old school” would make you stand out in the Internet age!)  My problem is that I often tell myself I’ll do that later.  All too often, however, “later” never comes.

This week I had the same thought pop into my head regrading someone I though could use an encouraging note.  Only this time, instead of saying I’ll do it later, I took a different approach.

I went to the closet and got out a card and envelop and put it on my desk where I work every day.  Then, I determined that I would get the card written during lunch and placed in the mail that same day.  And you know what?   IT WORKED!  I got the card written and sent!  Who’d have thought!

Sometimes our biggest barrier to following through on our intentions, is that we lack a plan, no matter how simple, to make it happen.  For me, the simple act of getting the card out and naming a time to write in it was all I needed to ensure I followed through on my intention.

The next time your mind offers up a good intention that will bless someone else, don’t just assume you’ll do it later.  Put together a quick, simple plan that will ensure you turn that intention into completed action.

The person you’re blessing will be grateful you had a plan.

It’s Not Just Physical

We’ve all heard how exercise and diet are key components of maintaining good physical health as we age.  You’ll certainly get no argument from me about this!  However, I do think there’s more than just our physical health that we should consider as part of a healthy lifestyle.  We should also keep our minds healthy as well.

Two of the best ways I can think of to develop a healthy mind is to use it, and to be aware of what you’re putting into it.

This is just my opinion, but I think our minds were created to be used.  Just like a car is meant to be driven, and a piano is meant to be played, so too our minds were meant to be used rather than to sit idle.  By “using our minds”, I mean we should continuously be sharpening them by:

  • Exposing them to new and interesting (to us) content
  • Learning new skills
  • Listening to new, and even opposing ideas
  • Talking to people who are different from us
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Connecting with others

In addition to using them, we should also be aware of the content we’re allowing into our minds.  If you put gas in your car that is full of debris, it won’t run well.  Filling our minds with negative content will have the same effect over time.  The content we put into our minds is how we train our think, respond, and form our worldview.  I want to put content in my mind that will yield positive thinking, not only now, but well into the future.

So the next time you’re taking a walk, exercising, or doing any other activity that benefits your physical health, take a moment to make sure that you’re also developing a healthy mind as well.  Because if you’re like me, you want to age with a heathy body AND mind. 

What’s Forming You

Consider all the things that influence the way you think.  The number of inputs is more than we might think, and includes everything from social media, to the books we read, the people we hang out with, the TV shows and movies we watch and books we read.  Now consider that each one of these things has influence on how our thinking is formed.

How does that make you feel?  Do you like the forming effect these inputs are having on you?  If you answered, “Yes”, great!  Keep availing yourself to the same kinds of inputs you’ve been receiving.

If you answered, “No”, there’s good news!  You can change your inputs, and thereby change how you’re thinking is being formed.  What a blessing, and a responsibility.  A blessing, because we can decide how were being formed, and a responsibility, because we should take action to ensure that we’re being formed in a way that leads to a positive, abundant life.

The question isn’t whether our thinking be formed, but rather how it will be formed.  Let’s decide how we want our thinking to be formed and ensure that we’re consuming the right inputs to get us there.

A Quick Thought On Answered Prayers

I’m amazed at how often answers to prayers come through other people.  From kind words, to words of encouragement, to generous acts, to numerous other things, other people are often the chosen vehicle God uses to answer prayer. 

What’s particularly interesting about this, is that we not only receive God’s blessings through others, but WE can be a vehicle that God uses to answer the prayers of others!  How cool is that!

The next time you feel like you should say something kind to someone, or take an action that benefits someone else, not matter how small or insignificant it may seem,  don’t hesitate.  Do it right away.  You just may be the vehicle that God wants to use to answer someone’s prayer.

Taking Notice

September and October are my favorite months of the year. While the cooler temperatures are always nice, it’s the beautiful natural scenery that always captures my attention. The way the morning and evening light colors the surroundings is worth stopping to notice.

It’s easy to be distracted, rushing through life and not noticing our surroundings. For this reason, I think it’s so important to not only be on the lookout for the beauty around us, but to stop and take it in when we see it.

I’ve found that what I’m actively looking for, I usually see more of.