By Dr. Anne Marie Evers

I was having lunch with my friend Lori and her sister Carol, whom I
had not met before, last week. We’re all about the same age, and our
conversation started out very pleasantly. Then after a while, Carol
started expounding in a monotone voice about how terrible it was to be
getting older and how she absolutely hated the aging process. She
talked for 45 minutes in great detail about her aches and pains, her
failing eyesight and hearing, and her husband’s lack of interest in her
sexually. She concluded that she probably could not attract men any
more.I finally got to ask her if she was happy. She replied, “Happy,
how could you ask such a question? I used to be the prettiest girl in
my class and now look at me. I’m 68, a disaster and over the hill.” I
realized that, even though we’re the same age, my perspective on aging
at least allows me to be happy.

I think that’s because I believe getting older is about getting better.

I do whatever I wish, go wherever I choose and do whatever I want. I
have money to travel and a host of wonderful friends. My children are
grown and I have no obligations to tie me down. I love what I do, and
it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ at all. I feel renewed and joyous. Life
just keeps getting better and better. I am the happiest I’ve ever been.

Carol responded as if I was some kind of Pollyana, and Lori tried to
apologize for her sister’s rudeness. Neither reaction bothered me: I
know who I am, what I am thinking and what I am doing. Their responses
were entirely ‘theirs’. Carol restated her desire to be happy, adding,
“Is that asking too much? Everything and everyone is out to get me. No
one likes me.”

It sometimes amazes me how people forget they have the power within
to make their dreams a reality. And that they actually believe other
people would take time out of their busy lives to make someone else’s
life miserable.

Your life is whatever you choose—and it all starts with what you’re thinking.

If you’re choosing to believe that aging is about your body falling
apart, your looks fading and your sex appeal diminishing, then that is
what you’ll experience.

If you choose to believe aging is about living life to the fullest,
being the happiest, most satisfied and most loved you’ve ever been,
then the second half of life will be your best.

I suggested to Carol that, if she wanted to change her life, she
start with forgiving herself for choosing to think of her life in such
a negative way. And then to forgive everyone and everything that has
ever hurt her.

After we’ve forgiven ourselves for believing what our culture tells
us growing older is, can we come to love, respect and approve of who we
are…And that is the beginning of a happiness that will last a lifetime.

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