OK. Today is my birthday. I am three quarters of a century old. Yeah, that’s the BIG 7-5! So what does that mean? Am I supposed to be shuffling along waiting for the grim reaper to collect me? Seems to me, aging is a calendar issue, while youthfulness is an attitude. Sure, some people are OLD, they may have clocked 50 years on the calendar, but to listen to them, watch them, and ask them, they have thrown in the towel on wanting to live a vibrant, fulfilling life.
On Sunday, two days before my birthday, I receive a plaque from my sifu (that means instructor in the martial arts world), certifying me in the art of Tai-Chi Quan “Supreme Ultimate Fist.” I added that to my black belt certification that I earned when I was 70. That’s what us old codgers can accomplish if we set our mind to it!
Age is on the calendar, youthfulness is a state of mind. If you think of yourself as young and vibrant, and you act in accord with how you think about yourself, you can accomplish some pretty amazing things. On the other hand, if you think of yourself as old when you are 40, 50, 60…imagine what you will feel like when you are 75.
My sister is closing in on 70 and she will put you youngsters to shame on the dance floor. Jerry Brown became governor of California, for the second time, at 72; he will be 74 next month. Willie Nelson will be 79 next month and is still going strong. Ronald Regan was elected to a second term as president at the young age of 75! And Jack LaLanne, the grandmaster of physical fitness, at age of 70 swam handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, for a distance of one mile!
None of us knows when our brief visit to this planet will be over. Who can predict when disease or accident will end our life? The challenge is what will we do between now and then? How will you choose to live your life? You can live it with a youthful exuberance, appreciating each moment fully, taking on new ventures, learning new skills, embracing novelty, and experiencing new adventures or you can choose to wind down because of some arbitrary date on a calendar that says, “it is time to pack it in and retire” because you are too old and too tired to continue your journey.”
For myself, I think I will continue to seize the day until I no longer can do so. So today, on my 75th birthday, my wife will leave for a three week adventure in China; we will hike, bike, take calligraphy lessons, kung fu classes, pottery and cooking lessons.
As we age, our skin may sag, our joints may ache, our hearing and vision may not be as acute, and other physical changes may occur; these cannot be helped. However, our attitude and outlook is up to us: challenge yourself, color outside of the lines, stay youthful, and appreciate the uniqueness of each day as an adventure.
[Dr. Dreyfus is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist, relationship counselor, sex therapist, and life coach in the Santa Monica - Los Angeles. The profits from his latest book, LIVING LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT along with his other five books, are being donated to charity through the website Book Royalties for Charity and can be purchased through Amazon.com. Please become a friend on his Facebook Fan Page by indicating "like" on the page by clicking here. You can also find more tools to help you experience a more fulfilling life by clicking here to visit his website.]