Terry Paulson

Use it or lose it. Phyllis Diller loves to say, "Maybe it's true that life begins at 50... but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out." It's no wonder seniors are "spreading out" when the average senior watches 48 hours of TV every week. Aging well requires developing exercise and eating habits that will give you a body ready for action. What's the best exercise? The one you'll do consistently. Trade watching more TV movies for more movement.

Keep working as long as you love it. Instead of sliding into retirement, invest in reenergizing and reinventing yourself. You become an old dog when you stop doing new tricks. Invest 5-10% of your time in developing a Plan B--a career or side business you can continue beyond your retirement. Many companies are creating part-time, project-limited career options for seniors with the right skills and experience. Other seniors have started service businesses out of their homes. As a professional speaker, I treasure the words of George Burns, "I can't die; I'm booked."

With aging, more and more of your friends and loved ones pass away. One woman shared her Senility Prayer: "Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.”One of the best ways to find and nurture new caring relationships is to participate in a faith community of your choice. Not only will you nurture your faith and connection to God; you'll find people of all ages who care about you. You will find strength both in helping and in being helped.

Finally, take aging seriously, and yourself lightly. Art Gliner had a great perspective: "We're only young once, but with humor, we can be immature forever." When you stop laughing, you become "old" faster! Read funny books. Watch comedies. Spend time with people who love to laugh. Laughter is a tonic for the soul that can bring momentary joy into the darkest of your days. Rest assured that aging will give you reasons to laugh or to cry. Choose more laughter, and start by laughing a bit more at yourself.

James Dean once said, "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." His premature death proved that dreams don't ensure a long life. So don't just dream. Plan and develop your life-affirming habits that will a long life worth living more likely. Then you can live each day with gusto as if it might be your last, because someday it will be.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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