The American Architect, Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.”
What a positive statement and a peek into the mind of a creative genius. We, too, can choose to embrace the beautiful things in life as we age. In spite of the emphasis on “staying young” in our Western culture, we know we’ve learned important lessons along the way. We know that aging is a natural part of life, and we have choices in the ways we live each day of our lives.
Here are some perspectives on life we can adopt to maintain the richness, and goodness of living in this complicated, beautiful world.
Life is a Journey
We’re born, we live, we die. Everyone knows it from the beginning. As soon as we’re able to understand as children, we know that life ends in death. While some fear death, most of us learn that life is a journey. We experience both wonderful and tragic events. We see that there is much to learn and even more to enjoy. We embrace the ups and downs and find lessons in both. We enjoy family and friends and learn to be thankful even when things aren’t perfect. We enjoy the journey.
We wish life were perfect: that every day has sunshine, every relationship is healthy and unbroken, that every day if filled with health and well-being. But life is not that way. There is hardship, misunderstanding, heartbreak, and sickness. Still, most of us learn that life is good, and we learn to accept the good with the bad. We find ways to focus on the good while minimizing the effects of the negative parts of life. We overcome.
The happiest people in the world have learned how to stay positive. They focus their attention on the happy things; the antics of a toddler, the aroma of a flower, the embrace of a loved one. Yes, there are horrible and tragic circumstances in the world and no, we can’t change most of them. Still, we find beauty and choose to laugh rather than despair. We can’t always change the circumstances that come our way, but we do have the power to choose how to respond. There is a time to mourn and a time to laugh. We can choose to laugh more than we cry.
Nothing takes our mind off our own troubles quicker than to give to others in need. Thankfully, there is always work to do and ways to make another’s days brighter. As we grow older, we see the importance of caring for others. We see that giving of our time and energies is just as important as giving monetary gifts. We give of ourselves and in that way we enrich our daily lives. A generous heart always has plenty to do and knows how to take pleasure in the giving.
Do you know sad stories of broken relationships that never mended? What a tragedy that is. It takes energy to maintain our friendships and family relationships, but its effort worth making. There is a time to walk away to minimize damage, but most of the time we can be the peacemakers in our circle of friends and family—we can be the ones who initiate restoration.
There is so much to learn in this world! We can never be done with learning of all kinds. There is science and technology, there are the classics to read and enjoy, poetry to savor, there are endless categories of learning to engage with. Those who delve into genealogy or archeology, anthropology or biology, know that learning is both fascinating and sometimes surprising.
Those of us who keep our brains active and who stay curious about the world will reap the benefits of a life of learning.
Leaving a Legacy
Seniors often want to leave monetary wealth to their children and grandchildren. And that’s fine if it’s possible. But we have so much more to pass on besides money. We have the wisdom of many years lived, we have our family stories to share, we have our moral codes and values to teach, the crafts and skills we’ve honed, and we have the model of our own lives for our younger generations to observe.
None of us is perfect, but if we determine to pass on the good things of life to our children and grandchildren, we’ll do well. We’ll pass on honesty and a strong work ethic, we’ll model the love we have for family and friends, we’ll show ways to be generous and ways to enjoy life.
We’ll laugh more than we cry.