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Growing Old Disgracefully

Growing Old Disgracefully

Growing Old Disgracefully

    Sixty Eight Going on Thirty Three

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    seniors

      For those of you who have read my book Fattitude, you have already ‘met’ one of my favourite people; Jan Frazer. Jan is one of my personal trainers, has worked along side me at Harper’s Personal Training for about fifteen years and is sixty eight years young. She’s a great trainer, gifted teacher, charismatic communicator, completely lovable chick and funny as hell. And no, she’s not great for a sixty eight year-old; she’s just great. Full stop. Her age is irrelevant. As it should be for all of us. She’s fit, strong, intelligent, driven, compassionate and has amazing people skills. She’s an inspired leader, role model and motivator who consistently produces great results with her clients. I’ve always been fascinated with Jan because she simply doesn’t worry about what someone her age is ‘meant to be doing’ (I hate that term) and she’s always doing things which would leave most thirty year-olds exhausted or intimidated. And no, this is not some feel-good, exaggerated, love-fest to make for an interesting article, it is a completely honest and accurate account of a woman nearing seventy who has a biological age of thirty three (yep, thirty three) and consistently produces incredible results in her world.

      Mrs. Hard Work

      Sometimes when I’m mentoring someone who is hard work, I feel like walking them across the gym floor to meet Jan and saying something like, “Mrs. Hard Work, I’d like you to meet Jan; she’s twice your age, fitter, leaner, stronger, never complains, is tough as nails and has an infinitely better attitude that you’ve ever had… so suck it up, Princess!!”

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      Too nasty? Perhaps I should do it anyway.

      The Rules

      Jan is completely unaffected by the rules. You know the rules; the ‘what is and isn’t appropriate for someone of your age’ rules. I hate those rules. Always have. And don’t think that just because the rules aren’t written anywhere (formally), that they don’t exist; they absolutely do. In fact, they pervade every area of our existence; our culture, our language, our corporations and our collective mindset. I find many of these rules to be destructive, disempowering and completely unwarranted. I could give you countless examples of how we disadvantage our more ‘experienced’ citizens with our stupid thinking, rules, expectations and standards but I don’t want this to turn into an epic that you won’t read. If we were to believe some experts, we might be forgiven for thinking that anyone over fifty should have one of those disabled stickers on their car and be wrapped in cotton wool. Personally, I intend to head back to college when I’m in my sixties to do my Masters and possibly a PhD. Not wishful thinking, a plan. I also hope that Jan will work with me for a least another decade or two.

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      The Psychology of Aging

      Neither is it wishful thinking when I tell you that age (as we experience it in our culture) is more about psychology than it is about physiology. It’s about much more than our body or how many years we’ve been here on the big blue ball; it’s about how we think, act, communicate, work, socialise, recreate and love. That’s why we see ‘young’ people in their seventies and ‘old’ people in their fifties or even forties – because years on the planet is only part of the age equation. Of course there is a physical consequence of time but many of us unnecessarily accelerate the aging process via our programmed ageist thinking, our poor choices, our stupid behaviours, our irresponsible diet, our sedentary lifestyle, our lack of exercise and our propensity to listen to the morons who tell us to grow old gracefully.

      F*** that. I’ll grow old disgracefully thanks.

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      Old Before Our Time

      Sadly, many of us will get old before we should. I won’t. And not because I’m genetically gifted but I choose not to get ‘old’ (in the way that many people allow themselves to age, that is). Even the term ‘Acting Your Age’ infers that we must fulfill some kind of pre-determined ‘old’ role. “How old am I? Okay, that’s how ‘old’ I should act. Hmm, exactly what is appropriate behaviour for some my age?” It’s ridiculous that we should somehow feel a need to conform to some standardised set of acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviours based on our chronological age.

      Of all the mental barriers that we humans create for ourselves, the age thing has gotta be right up there on the ‘stupid list’. The truth is that chronological age isn’t our real problem, how we (the society) think about age (and subsequently behave) is the problem. Of course the years have a physical impact on us (especially when we don’t maximise our genetics) but for the majority of us, age is more of a psychological issue than it is a physiological one.

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      Craig Harper

      Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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      Last Updated on July 8, 2020

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

      The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

      1. Understand Yourself Better

      Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

      Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

      2. Keep Track of Small Changes

      I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

      Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

      3. Become Aware of What Matters

      As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

      You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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      4. Boost Creativity

      The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

      When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

      You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

      5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

      A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

      Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

      6. Process Life Experiences

      When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

      Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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      7. Stress Relief

      In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

      Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

      8. Provide Direction

      Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

      One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

      9. Solve Problems

      Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

      Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

      When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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      10. Find Relief From Fighting

      Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

      Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

      11. Find Meaning in Life

      Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

      12. Allow Yourself to Focus

      Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

      13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

      When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

      14. Let the Past Go

      I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

      15. Allow Freedom

      Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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      16. Enhance Your Career

      Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

      Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

      17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

      All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

      18. Catalog Your Life for Others

      No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

      We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

      Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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