Rick is only 45 years old, and yet he seems much older. The reason I say that is his almost total lack of enthusiasm. As far as Rick is concerned, his life has never been, nor will it ever be, as fun and exciting as it was during his college years. Everything after that is just a big disappointment.
Get him into a conversation about college, his eyes light up and he becomes really animated. But ask him what he’s up to now, and he says: “you know, same old thing.” In sharp contrast, Rick’s 14 year old son Jason, who looks like a little Rick, is full of enthusiasm and positive energy.
Is this contrast just about age?
Have you ever noticed how people’s conversations tend to run in one of three directions? There are those who talk mostly with a reference to the future, those who talk about the present, and others who speak primarily with reference to the past.
That’s not to say that their conversation doesn’t include all three, just that their general focus is either in the past, present, or future. I’ve also noticed that this trend often correlates to a person’s age group.
Who’s looking forward, and who’s looking back?
Younger people are often very future oriented. They feel that their whole life is ahead of them, and their enthusiasm creates a lot of energy. On the flip side, the conversation of many older people often reveals that, in their mind, the best days of their life are all in the past. As a result, they have a greater sense of enthusiasm about the past than they do about the future.
Of course, all age groups talk about the present, but many times there is a major difference in the tone of those conversations as well. Generally speaking, the younger the group the more excitement and enthusiasm they attach to their current daily activities.
How can we continue to be excited about life?
Even though these observations appear to be age related, age is not as strong an influence as you might think. Why do I say that? Because I also know fairly young people, like Rick, who look back longingly on their glory days, as if life couldn’t possibly be that good again.
Even more significant, I personally know people in their fifties and sixties who are just the opposite. Instead of pining over yesteryear, they are still very excited by their current activities, and they are looking ahead with youthful enthusiasm and optimism. In fact, I have an amazing friend named Glen who is full of enthusiasm at 90 years young.
What accounts for such opposite viewpoints?
This is where we can turn simple observations into advanced Life skills. These differences are not age related, even though it may appear to be that way. The truth is, these differences are more about attitude and focus. They actually have very little to do with chronological age.
This is true of many so called aging related conditions, regardless of whether they are mental, emotional, or physical. Our perception has a much greater influence on our reality than our circumstances do.
Life is mostly what you make it!
If you want to feel old at any age, all you need to do is convince yourself that your best days are in the past. Manifest this mindset, and you will quickly lose your enthusiasm about the future. This is an effective strategy for turning your life into an endurance contest.
Now, let’s turn that around. To maintain a sense of youthful enthusiasm, and an optimistic view of your life now and in the future, what should you do? You should create legitimate reasons to believe that these are the new good old days, and that your best years are just ahead. With the right focus and attitude, your life will continue to be full of amazing possibilities.
7 Things you can do right now!
Let’s look at some practical ways that we can move closer to the kind of attitude that fosters a sense of youthful enthusiasm and optimism. Here are some dos and don’ts to get you started.
1) Do – set new meaningful goals for your life.
… And don’t allow self-imposed limits to get in your way.
2) Do – design goals that play on your experience and knowledge.
… And don’t – make comparisons with what you used to do.
3) Do – take steps to stay physically fit and active.
… And don’t – ignore your health until it’s too late.
4) Do – continue to learn and grow your knowledge base.
… And don’t – allow your brain to go under stimulated.
5) Do – practice looking forward with eager anticipation.
And don’t – waste your life looking backwards.
6) Do – be willing to work around new challenges.
… And don’t – give up because you encounter difficulties.
7) Do – appreciate all the benefits that come with experience.
… And don’t – ever stop being grateful for each day of life.
Learning to be adaptable!
Nothing in life stays the same for very long. Life is in a state of change, so resisting change is a colossal waste of energy. On the other hand, learning to adapt quickly is a life skill that can serve us at any age. Instead of thinking: “I can’t do that anymore,” try saying: “I had to find a new way to do that.” Continue to challenge yourself.
Every stage of life has its strengths, and we should be willing to exploit those strengths. The natural progression of life is one of accumulated wisdom and knowledge. Add some youthful enthusiasm to all that accumulated knowledge and you’ll have good reason to feel excited about each new day.
Do you have a sense of enthusiasm about the future?
Do you someone older with youthful enthusiasm and optimism?
The lines are open!
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