Mark Twain is famous for saying, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Increasingly, the public and health experts are discovering the truth of Twain’s statement.
We all age – but our attitude toward that process makes all the difference in the world. Staying engaged and positive are key. People of advanced age have often done marvelous things – Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim Museum in New York when he was in his 90’s; Guiseppe Verdi wrote “Falstaff”, and Mary Baker Eddy founded The Christian Science Monitor in their 80’s.
Numerous studies show that staying engaged in useful activities and meaningful relationships contributes significantly. Additionally, many are finding that feeling good about one’s life is more lasting when founded on faith. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals indicates that their studies and observations have found that faith-based activity produces, “A sense of meaning and purpose in life, which affects health behaviors and social and family relationships.”
My friend, Margaret, was a woman of great faith and would often say, “I don’t think old!” She meant that she would find beauty and wonder in each day. She felt this gave her life independence during her senior years.
I met her when she was over 70. She decided she would sell advertising for a newspaper she loved. She applied for the job and designed ads and went from door to door to businesses throughout her town selling newspaper advertising. When she needed help, she recruited a college student, me, and taught me how to proceed. It was one of my first jobs. Ask her why she was able to be so active – and she would inevitably point you to the Bible. She said that she found its message inspiring.
When she felt stale, she often contemplated these words from Psalms: “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand” (Ps. 139: 17, 18).
After a while, she retired only to manage a bookstore and coordinate a staff of more than 20 individuals. Margaret knew times change, but she changed with them, kept active and more than positive; one might say uplifted.
We can all be more like Margaret if we choose to.