Editor’s note: “Living on Purpose” is a Kentucky-based religious column provided free to the Bartlett Express. We also welcome local columns with similarly universal messages; send your submissions to email@example.com.
We are all growing older. Thanks a lot, right? I realize that many will think this is not a very optimistic or positive thought, but nonetheless, it is a reality. I could have gone all day without hearing that; however, as with other topics, this too has a certain amount of accountability attached to it that can make a huge difference between dreading the future and having a healthy and positive attitude.
Recently, I could not help but notice a picture of Stan Lee on the front cover of a magazine, and was amazed at how great he looks for 94 years old. He is no doubt enjoying the fruits of his labors from creating fictional characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Spider-Man, just to name a few. And amazingly, he is still creating new figures and creatures, comic books and of course providing the inspiration for an endless supply of highly successful super-hero movies. As I continued reading about Mr. Lee, it appears that his highly active imagination gives him the energy and excitement that fuels his relentless work ethic. He does not consider the retirement mentality, because his imagination provides him with a continual supply of enthusiasm and motivation.
I am in and out of nursing homes every week and I personally know several men and women in their 90s who will astound you with their outward appearance as well as their very sharp minds. I always ask about their secret to enjoying a long life, and the common reply is that hard work made them tough. I have also noticed that most of them keep busy and have certain activities they look forward to. As with Stan Lee, we notice that active people whether physically or mentally seem to possess a built-in optimistic anticipation that motivates them to keep pushing forward. Older individuals who are still mentally strong are keenly aware of current and future events. They keep up with what is happening and have their own opinions, which is a healthy form of independence and inspiration. May we keep a tight grip on our faith in God and focus on positive thoughts that can increase our awareness and help keep us young at heart.
‘Frank Lloyd Wright said, “the longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”
I cannot overemphasize how important it is to retain hope and faith in order to retain a positive attitude for the future. If we lose our expectation that good things are coming just around the next corner, we will have nothing joyful to live for and become vulnerable to falling into a state of negativity and discouragement. I have heard throughout my life that you are as young as you feel, and I can personally say that some days I still have a pep in my step, for which I am grateful. One activity that I will pass on to you who are now being given “senior discounts” is the benefits of walking. My wife and I walk around the neighborhood in the evenings, and I am amazed at how good I feel once we get going. Stretching the legs, relaxing and getting a breath of fresh air can do wonders for the body and mind. Deuteronomy 34:7 reminds us, “Moses was 120 years old when he passed away. His eyesight was not impaired and he was still vigorous and robust.”
As we become more mature, another great idea is to stay in contact with family and friends. It’s good to explore new adventures, to write letters, visit acquaintances, attend church and different types of events, and make some lasting memories with those we care about. Maintaining a hobby is another excellent idea that can help keep us mentally, physically and spiritually stimulated. Raising a small flower or vegetable garden is a wonderful activity that gives us some physical exercise, and watching something grow can invigorate us with expectation and a sense of appreciation from day to day. I like this quote from Betty Friedan, “Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more, visit billyhollandministries.com.