You can be older and better in the new year

“Love and joy come to you and to you glad tidings too.” That phrase has been running through my mind and heart all week. It’s clearly more than a seasonal sentiment. It’s a blessing — some might even call it a sacrament, which I define at this moment as “a visible acknowledgement of the promise of spiritual grace.” Consider that.

The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is full of opportunity to visibly express love, joy and goodwill. It is also a time to set the stage for a year in which we will become “better” — not just older. In considering my options in that arena, I came upon an AARP “community blogging” site that posed “using gratitude as a tool to improve your health” in the coming year.

People were asked to post the things on this website they were grateful for. One comment said, “Beyond grateful to have sold the remains of my apiary equipment to someone with an earnest desire to keep bees. May his efforts be fruitful and may honey flow with abundance.”

Another post read, “Grateful that in the end truth always win.” And yet another — “If all you did was look for things to appreciate, you would live a joyous and spectacular life.” (www.GratitudeHabitat.com)

The promise of a “spectacular” life is something to consider at any age but, after you round the corner into your 70s and 80s, it may be worth deeper contemplation. I have a vision of waking up every elderly day into the future and no matter what my circumstance or situation, looking at it as full of small adventures and un-tested opportunities, appreciative that I will always be learning something new. Identifying problems — yes, but solving them proactively and positively. I know, it takes practice.

The website mentioned above is one of 30 award-winning “Positivity” websites. If you need a little impetus toward being more positive, it suggests taking a few minutes every day in a favorite setting (a local park. your back yard or your favorite recliner perhaps — with the TV off) ) to reflect on what (or who) you are grateful for in your life. Focus on what you have — not on what you don’t have.

Or consider this idea. Maybe you only use it once in a while — but you do use it. You think before you speak. Each letter of the word THINK poses a question. T=”Is it true?” H=”Is it helpful? “I=“Is it inspiring?” N=”Is it Necessary? K=”Is it Kind?” The concept reminds us to be less abrupt and too-quickly negative. It is sometimes seen in a framed print accompanied by the photograph of a tousle-headed little girl with her face completely buried in a huge yellow sunflower.

We seem to have experienced a year where there is a great amount of negativity and disrespectful speech in the atmosphere. One thinking person at a time — maybe we can change that. The year ahead belongs to us. Older — and better.

Love and joy come to you and to you good tidings too … and God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.

— Sharon Johnson is executive director of Age-Friendly Innovators Inc. Reach her at Sharon@agefriendlyinnovators.org.

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