No matter what we do, the fact of life is that we are all getting older. Even those who eat the healthiest diets, hydrate daily, and exercise as a way of life, will all see signs of aging. We get the occasional gray hairs, find a few new “laugh” lines, and have a more aches and pains than we remember having in our younger years.
We most often hear about aging gracefully in the context of “Oh MY! She is not aging gracefully” or the more complimentary “WOW, she is aging so gracefully” which is always in reference to our physical appearance.
There is much more to aging than just our physical attributes.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive, which I was blessed to have collaborated on with Amy Newmark and other amazing individuals who have conquered their fears, embraced adventure and found the path to a more fulfilling lifestyle, is an amazing collection of stories. What does this have to do with aging? Well, in Time to Thrive there is a story called Common Ground which was written by Sue Sanders. The reason this story is so powerful is because it address what I would call aging gracefully from the inside. I think my favorite line in the story is:
“I headed off to Louisiana with one small tote packed with dresses and several huge bags of emotional baggage.”
What a great reminder! Continually dragging around that emotional baggage is what’s keeping us from aging gracefully. We may never get a gray hair or a wrinkle on our forehead but if we’re carrying years worth of regret, grudges, animosity, and shame, we will never be graceful no matter what our age. And, the thing is that the only person packing this baggage is US!
Yes, you may say that the stuff inside the baggage is caused by others but we are the ones who allow it to linger. We are the ones carrying it from place to place, never setting it down. Many times, the people who have wronged us have moved on and aren’t giving us a second though yet we continue to drag the baggage.
So…. My tip for you is to take some time and identify what is in your “baggage” and think about why it’s still there. Spend some time reflecting on it, mediate on it, and pray about it. Allow yourself to really come face to face with the issue(s). Then I want you to ask yourself…. IS THIS PERSON, EVENT, ISSUE WORTH MY TIME AND EFFORT ANY MORE? If you say ‘yes’ then just know you will be packing it back up and dragging it around for years to come. But when you say NO. NO! I will not allow this person, event, issue to take up any more space in my amazing life, then you begin to lighten that load a little at a time.
And, that, my friends is what aging gracefully is all about!