Do You Talk Yourself Out of Opportunities? By Robin Trimingham
Have you ever been offered the opportunity to do something and caught yourself saying something like “I used to love to go dancing but I haven’t done anything that strenuous in years” or “I used to have the family over dinner every Sunday but that’s just too much work now” or “I wish I could go to that wedding but I just have to accept that I’m too old to travel”?
It’s easy to come up with rational excuses for not continuing to do the things that you love as you age. In fact, in the western world we have allowed ourselves to be taught that it is normal to reduce our range of activities and scale back our life as we age. Everywhere we look we are bombarded by messaging which encourages to “be sensible”, accept that we are not as young as we used to be, and that we should be content simply to live another day. But is this a recipe for a long and thriving retirement life?
If you aspire to be the elderly person who sits alone in the corner of the living room with the cat, then the more reasons that you can create to place limitations on yourself, the easier it will be to feel comfortable in your reduced circumstances. If, however, you desire a vibrant life of activity and learning filled with mental and physical stimulation, then perhaps not.
Certainly, as you age it is normal to become bored and lose your appetite for a few of the things that you once loved; and equally, you may develop health issues that render a few of your previous pastimes unrealistic, but this does not mean that you cannot cultivate a passion for new learning, or activities and social events to take their place.
Yes, the internet has brought the world to our door and it is tempting to think that you might never need to leave home again, but recent studies are revealing that constantly trolling the net and social media sites on your phone is actually training your brain to be “reactive” instead of creative which can be stressful and counterproductive to someone in need of increased mental stimulation and social interaction.
Texting and making friends online is fine to a point, but humans need face to face interaction to remain positive. People who shun opportunities to attend social gatherings for any reason, preferring hide behind a user name and only interact with others via an internet connection have the potential to feel isolated and depressed.
The only cure for the sorrow of this self-imposed isolation is to start filling your day with brain expanding challenges and creating opportunities to get yourself out of the house. Yes, it is easier to have the groceries delivered or to watch your chosen religious service on television but getting dressed and out of the house will do you a world of good. And who knows – your presence just might brighten the day of someone that you encounter along the way.
By Robin Trimingham