Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Handling Negativity in Old Age

Over the wedding dinner last Saturday I asked the age old question, How can we be truly happy? As expected there was no absolute answer. We are all still searching, or perhaps some of us feel happiness is not a pre-requisite for achieving a 'good life' which again is a vague concept. What has negativity got to do with happiness? As I think about how I can be a truly happy person I ask how my own negativity is frustrating that goal. I would like to die happily.

Thinking of my past I realize there were many regrets, frustrations, failures, anger and unforgiveness. These emotions have crystalized, hardened and deformed my outlook on life at one point or another but thankfully I was able to look back and learn from the circumstances to stop my life from being permanently changed by my own negativity. It is not a fully won battle but being able to see the trees from the woods helps me stand aside and deal with the hurdles more optimistically and successfully. I have no formula but I believe that if we dwell in being critical of others as well as our shortcomings we deny ourselves the joy of being happy for the moment.

No one can make us happy, and we cannot make another person happy. At most we facilitate the process but we ourselves are not the reason for someone else's happiness. But if we speak kindly, act honorably and be of good assistance we encourage the recipients of our goodwill to be positive and hopefully be happier. Sadly many senior people fail to rise above their accumulated negative feelings and have allowed bitterness, anger and prejudice to rule their thoughts, speech and sometimes actions.

In old age our bodies and health often deteriorate faster than our minds and this add on to our frustrations as we find our independence and freedom more limited, and at times find ourselves less dignified should we pride ourselves in doing things all by ourselves. The refusal to accept the reality that we must depend on caregivers as we grow older compound our negative outlook towards our own future and often spill over to those who care and love us. I would accept the fact that we must surrender a part of our lives into the hands of professionals and family with cheerfulness and peace inside our hearts. Only by facing this truth can we face our final days with calm and peace.

Pain and sufferings often accompany our growing old. Difficult as it is to put on a cheerful outlook we must accept the fact that we will break down and such pains are there to temper us and grow us into spiritual maturity. No one desire pain but everybody needs to find their strength to overcome them with grace and not allow such handicaps bring down our spirit. To be a happy senior person the answer is within us, and involves killing our negative attitudes and build our arsenal of positive thoughts. It do well to remember that negative thoughts and attitudes are destructive and harm relationship. On the other hand learning to overcome them help us be more respected, wanted, loved and missed when it is time to go.

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