As you probably know, there is a movement that encourages people to be more mindful in life.
I would see the books and articles and podcasts and breezily think, “how nice” as I continued with my fast pace. I didn’t want to slow down. I liked moving and getting things done and accomplishing things. It felt so satisfying.
Until I realized I was feeding my anxiety because I was doing too much at the same time. I was having a hard time relaxing and calming the rush of thoughts swarming in my mind. So, I took a closer look at what it means to be mindful. Please know I’m not an expert on the topic – far from it. But what I have learned is the importance of single tasking and focusing wholly on the task.
It has been incredibly hard. At first, I hated it. And I still struggle.
I’d wash grapes. I’d focus on how plump they feel in my fingers, and the fresh smell they produced, and the chilly water on my hands, and the soft thumping sound the fruit made as they moved around the bowl.
And then I’d want to go insane.
Seriously. Why just wash grapes when I can wash grapes while listening to a podcast AND the timer for the muffins baking in the oven? Oh, and text a conversation on my phone with my friend Caity.
But I didn’t give up. And while I still do this mindful thing (in my opinion) imperfectly, the point is I’m doing it. And I’m starting to reap the benefits. The pace of my thoughts have become a more manageable beat. And I’m starting to believe that time isn’t always rushing.
I’m not by any means slowing down time, but I’m slowing down my perception of it. And it’s done so much for calming my mind, taking a deep breath, and keeping any anxiety I feel at a more manageable level.
Are you successful at being mindful?
Do you have any tips you can share?
A trio of links to “link” you to other voices that are reflecting on aging!
Join me as I drink in some other thoughts about aging. We may or may not agree with what is said in the articles below, but I’ve found the words provide plenty of food for thought and can give really great encouragement. (I've also pulled out quotes from each article that really resonate with me.)
The first two links are more current (within the last month), and the last link is what I affectionately call an “oldie but goodie”: an older article I think warrants a read.
What Jennifer Lopez Said About Aging Deserves a Round of Applause – Here’s Why:
“For me, it was important,” she said. “It was important as a woman to do that; to let people know that you don’t get to write women off at a certain point in their life. You don’t get to write people off.” She continued, “I didn’t realize that in just being myself and being unafraid to say that to the world: ‘I’m a woman, I’m 50 years old, and I’m here and I’m not going anywhere,’ was going to mean so much to so many people.”
21 Things I’d Tell My Younger Self:
Drink lots of water and moisturize. Water is life and the more you learn to love drinking it, the better you’ll feel. In addition to preventing your skin from aging too quickly.
What Is So Good About Growing Old?
This may be news to people who equate being old with being sad and alone, but it fits with a body of work by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist at Stanford. She led a study that followed people ages 18 to 94 for a decade and found that they got happier and their emotions bounced around less. Such studies reveal that negative emotions such as sadness, anger and fear become less pronounced than in our drama-filled younger years.
I’ve had to drink a big ole cup of truth about myself. Those things other people do that annoy me? I do as well.
This horrible realization was made VERY clear to me the other day when I answered my door to pick up a delivery. As an American who lives in the United Kingdom, I hear the accents all day long, especially the word “Brilliant!” When I took the item from the gal doing the delivery, I was extremely pleased, and I said the first thing that popped into my mind: “It’s brilliant!”
I closed the door and I groaned inwardly. Seriously Gina? All I could think of was the Friends episode where Monica and Rachel’s American pal comes back from England and annoys them all with her overly exaggerated/fake English accent. I know people in real life like her. I’ve been known to judge people like her.
So, I defended myself, to myself (a little weird, I know). Why did I say that word?
I really think it’s because I hear it so often. I think also because I’ve noticed my English neighbors don’t use the same small talk words that I use, so I feel self-conscious and try to blend in and borrow their words. I wasn’t just suddenly ‘fancying’ myself British while making an embarrassing attempt at a British accent.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m less judgmental, but apparently a little of it is still alive and well and doing the tango. Unfortunately, it takes my own mishaps to help me understand why people do what they do - AND even more humbling, the very things that annoy the living daylights out of me.
What about you?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
I love hearing from you!
Why can “older” people be so hard on themselves and those younger than them? Growing up, I heard the following:
“Enjoy it now, while you don’t have to worry about cholesterol.”
“Wait until you are older, and your joints don’t work anymore either.”
“Well, you’re young so that dress looks good on you now. Wait until you are my age.”
They left me with the uneasy feeling that in my delicate state, I was somehow superior to the messenger, but I wouldn’t be for long.
Where I think these bitter people went terribly wrong was how they coped with truth of aging: it’s hard. However, instead of pushing forward with a positive mindset, they felt miserable and wanted to ensure others did too. Misery loves company. Or maybe they felt a sense of justice because aging is, in a way, an equalizer.
To be fair, they did convey some truth: unless we die, we all grow older. It’s just the cycle of life. We will ALL face aging and its consequences (whatever they may be). We can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in getting older.
However, we wouldn’t look at a little one and say with a snarl, “You are inevitably going to get your heart broken. You just wait for it!” How awful! Instead, we might gently take her hand and explain to her that there is pain in life, but it can be overcome and help turn her into a stronger, better person.
And this is exactly how we should talk about aging to ourselves and others: acknowledging the negative but balancing it out with the positive. If not, we sound bitter and unhappy and try to pull others down with ourselves. And no matter how we face it, we still grow older. So let’s do it positively and proudly.
Sometimes I’ll be in the grocery store shopping for something mundane, like tomatoes, and a certain song will come on that will just transport me to another time. And there I am, standing in the aisle among all the vegetables, getting goosebumps.
Are you like me in this way? I hope I’m not the only one.
I am so happy when I encounter something or someone great from my past - and not just a song, but a childhood toy, a familiar smell, or a book I thought was out of print.
We are a conglomeration of all our experiences, but it’s hard to continually remember them. Even the good ones. That’s why all these encounters are beneficial, because they carry with them such fantastic memories.
As some might say, we get “all the feels.”
And yet what a difference they can make as we age, because they represent something greater: a part of us we may think is gone is actually alive and well. Though it’s temporarily forgotten, it’s still very much woven into the history of our being.
I’ve tried to find reasons to be thankful for anxiety in my life, and it’s hard to do. But I must admit I’ve seen such care and compassion from others as a result of it. I’m exposed to a softer side of humanity that isn’t always present in typical interactions.
A good friend came over to be with me on a day that was incredibly tough for me. I was switching medications, going through horrible withdrawal, and my husband was out of town. I was not coping very well, as the physical and mental side effects were incredibly overwhelming. It was as if anxiety was giving me a giant unwanted embrace – tentacles wrapped around me tightly, engulfing me.
There I laid on the couch, tears in my eyes, watching Property Brothers on the HGTV channel. But those smiling brothers and their decorating expertise didn’t catch my attention as they normally do. The show seemed so surreal.
Meanwhile, my friend sat beside my head on the end of the couch and held my hand. That’s all she did. And that’s all I needed.
When my mind was spinning with pessimism and a flood of weird and sad thoughts and impressions, her hand grounded me. It was literally the touch of reality I needed to remind me that the turmoil inside me would stop, and the peace I sensed from her would one day be mine.
It would just take some time, but I would make it.
A trio of links to “link” you to other voices that are reflecting on aging!
I hope you will join me as I drink in some other thoughts about aging. We may or may not agree with what is said in the articles below, but they provide plenty of food for thought and hopefully some really great encouragement for you.
1. Gwyneth Paltrow Opens Up About Aging
2. FaceApp and the Savage Shock of Aging
(The first two links are more current (within the last month), and the last link is what I affectionately call an “oldie but goodie”: an older article I think warrants a read.
3. What can we learn from people who succeed later in life?
Creator of Love, Auntie.