A “Duh” Moment

Rather than discovering some new truth, I merely understood something I’ve always known.

We can’t do much to avoid physical decline. Yes, we should keep active and avoid destructive habits like smoking, excessive drinking, and bad diet. But even when you do everything right (at least, “right” as the current medical establishment claims at the moment), if you get old enough, your body’s going to fall apart.

Bodies are one thing. But can our habits today have an effect on how our attitudes age? Hoping it will help me grow old gracefully, for the past decade or so I’ve made a conscious effort (not always successfully) to avoid the behaviors I find so annoying in others. I tell myself not to complain about circumstances, find fault with others, have a negative viewpoint of unfamiliar things, etc.

It recently occurred to me, though, that I’m approaching it all wrong by focusing on the negative instead of the positive. Isn’t negativity what I want to avoid? Well, duh!

So here’s my updated list of resolutions, to take effect yesterday:

Instead of telling myself not to complain, I’ll make it a point to compliment.

Instead of bemoaning what I’ve lost, I’ll express thanks for what I have.

Rather than criticizing others, I’ll try to put myself in the other’s position.

Instead of allowing my problems to absorb me, I’ll make an effort to help others whose difficulties are worse.

I intend to smile when I feel like frowning, chuckle when I feel like moaning, and shout Hallelujah! when I want to scream.

As experiments go, it’s not scientific. Only my family will be able to tell you if my efforts pay off in the long run. Moreover, we never see ourselves as others see us; what I think is gracious, others might call obnoxious.

Do habits of attitude we consciously cultivate in middle age reap a sweet harvest in the autumn and winter of our lives? For my kids’ sake, I hope so.

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