Maintaining Your Youthful Enthusiasm At Any Age

enthusiasm at any age

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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  1. Frank J October 19, 2009 Reply

    At 47, life is good and if it wasn’t, I’d still keep a positive outlook.

    • Jonathan October 19, 2009 Reply

      Hey Frank, you’ll never get old because you’re too busy having fun!

  2. Nea October 19, 2009 Reply

    Great post. Tell Rick to come visit me. I’m the enthusiasm queen. If I fall down the steps, I sit there and laugh aloud at myself. I figure either I needed a good look at the ground or the Universe was shielding me from some flying bug. I make free time every single week to have fun with my teenage daughter. I don’t exactly look as cool as she does when we dance, but I look as cool as I can. I color pictures, skip in the rain, watch cartoons, and surround myself with people who are equally “strange.” I’m 32 yet I often get asked if I’m my daughter’s sister or fried. Forever young!!

    • Jonathan October 19, 2009 Reply

      Nea, I just love your attitude. Keep that mindset and you will enjoy every day. I’m the oldest person on this page and, as far as I am concerned – Life rocks!

  3. Karlil October 19, 2009 Reply

    When one stay in the past, there is no meaning to improving himself to make a better future, as he is putting his focus on things that does not change. Great article Jon!

    • Jonathan October 19, 2009 Reply

      Hi Nik, not only does the past not change, but it also doesn’t exist. It’s just a mental picture that’s probably been exaggerated as the years go by. Life happens in the present and unfolds into the future.

  4. Josh Hanagarne October 19, 2009 Reply

    Wonderful post. I’d love to meet Rick. Sounds like a great dude.

    As long as I am moving towards a goal, I feel young. I don’t dwell on the past, and I try not to fixate on the future. But every day, I do want to take a step towards a bigger goal. This makes me feel like every day is a win. Even when I have a terrible day, I try to make a move towards something that is important to me.

    It’s hard not to be excited when you’re making progress. You’re never too old to make progress. I hope :)

    • Jonathan October 19, 2009 Reply

      Greeting Josh, and thanks for joining us. You made some great points and I just love the name of your blog. Here’s to continued progress on all fronts.

  5. Steven Aitchison October 19, 2009 Reply

    Another good one Jonathan.

    I was talking to my mum on the phone last night, who is 60, and she was saying how she will never feel old as she is so very young in the mind. When I said I felt the same but I seemed to get a lot of physical problems when I hit 40 she advised ‘that’s because it’s taken 40 years of the abuse to catch up, and nothing to do with you being 40′. I laughed at this, but it’s very true.

    • Jonathan October 20, 2009 Reply

      Hi Steve, your mom sounds like a smart lady. The physical abuse thing is right on the money. As the years go by, and the over use (abuse) catches up with us, we begin to realize something. Body parts wear out, and then we recognize the need to start being more aware of how we use those parts.

      After years of heavy lifting, and several herniated discs, I finally figured out that it doesn’t matter how strong the rest of your body is, your discs can only take so much compression. So now I work around it and have designed a program that allows me to keep getting stronger and leaner without causing and spinal compression.

      In the long run, a young attitude and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances will help us maintain our youthful enthusiasm. Say hi to your mum for me!

  6. Marilou Silverman October 20, 2009 Reply

    Very good reminder for everyone. Do – take steps to stay physically fit and active. And don’t – ignore your health until it’s too late. This is the best, esp. for me.

    • Jonathan October 20, 2009 Reply

      Hi Marilou, as we get older our physical condition becomes a more accurate age indicator than our chronological age. Maintaining our health and fitness will pay HUGE dividends as the years go by. In contrast to many of my chronological peers (I’m 58), who are on various prescriptions medications, I haven’t been to a doctor in over 30 years. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

  7. John Duffield October 20, 2009 Reply

    Good morning Jonathan. Your post about the promise of youth is a great addition to anyone’s day. Here’s some more thoughts about staying young for your readers. Most of us have heard tell of the “fountain of youth” before, but thought nothing of it. It’s just an old myth after all. Isn’t it. Not at all. Like all Myths, there’s a profound truth behind this cherished way of being. Unfortunately, there’s also a profound barrier keeping this fountain from appearing in our lives. Even so, it’s completely possible to remain enthusiastic, adventurous and surprised by what tomorrow has to offer right to the end of our lives, because youth is a way of being, not a clock. So how do you find this famous fountain? To become young, you have to learn how to release your Spirit. When you do, ideas about who you are and what to do with your life will come flooding out of that shell they’ve been in. Like a river. Or a fountain. You’ll be deluged with dreams of your very own that you’ll work to make real. A brand new you will continue to be reborn as you grow your way to where your destiny is. All that fun and joy and enthusiasm “youth” is famous for will stream into your life once more. Still don’t believe this is the real and true fountain of youth? Go find a real person driven to fulfill a life-mission. Someone in their seventies, eighties or hundreds. They’re still as vibrant and enthusiastic about life as any twenty-something. They may be more seasoned and wiser and less inclined to make the same mistakes they made before. But they’re still filled with wonder about the world and excited about what each new day might bring. Just like young people are supposed to be. Would the real Fountain of Youth make an octogenarian look like a freshly minted teenager like most people want it to? No it would not, but it would do something far better. It would take away the stigma of getting old. Why? Well, learning to release Spirit lets us see ourselves in other people and the world around us. When and if many young people began to profoundly see themselves in old men and women, age would reveal its own varieties of beauty. The simple-minded silly desire to stay stuck in early life would be replaced by a deeper more awe inspiring need to grow Human. And so, the real Fountain of Youth would make old and young alike equal in value and worth, and each of us would look forward to the various times of our lives. The real Fountain of Youth wouldn’t just keep us young, it would make youth revere people of all ages. Quite a surprising turnaround I’d say. Ciao Jonathan. John Duffield

    • Jonathan October 20, 2009 Reply

      Hey John, thanks for sharing that analogy with us. I feel very much as you described. I am currently working on a 26 week coaching program designed around this very topic, it’s called: Mastering Your Midlife. I am tired of the term “midlife’ being associated with “crisis” and want to help others see that it doesn’t need to be that way at all.

  8. Vin October 20, 2009 Reply

    Great advice, Jonathan! I’ve never been too concerned about my age and always thought that it was a result of having a grounded perspective and because I am pursuing fulfilling activities. After reading this, I now realize that it also has a lot to do with the fact that I am often excited about what lies ahead and what I can do to make it better.

    It’s great motivation to hear about your 89 year old friend looking forward to the future. I wish I could encourage some of the older people I know to think this way, and I especially hope that I also think that way at that age! :)

    • Jonathan October 20, 2009 Reply

      Hi Vin, I think you have already figured out how to keep your youthful enthusiasm alive. It’s a simple combination of manifesting the right attitude, and taking care of your health, both of which you are already doing. The keys to a great life are not difficult, but they do require conscious awareness and consistency.

  9. Rocket Bunny October 20, 2009 Reply

    To me age is a number. I don’t think about it until around my birthday. Then I think celebration only because it is another reason to bring people together with lots of laughter and food.
    I appreciate my past because it as made me who I am today, my future starts tomorrow but I am not going to wish away today. I have some many riches in my life I want to enjoy and share and experience everything new I can. Live~Laugh~Love to the fullest.

    • Jonathan October 20, 2009 Reply

      Beautifully said Bunny. What a great attitude and sense of balance. Thanks for sharing, you are an inspiration.

  10. Stephen October 20, 2009 Reply

    Jonathan, this was a fantastic article. I really loved it. I really liked how you presented the Do and Don’t list at the end. Great job!

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Stephen, I have found that for every “do” list there is usually an appropriate “don’t do” list to support it.

  11. Lana October 20, 2009 Reply

    I especially like the reminder to not resist change and be adaptable. Change is the only thing that is permanent in this world, yet so few people can actually fully embrace it and stop resisting.

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      That is so true Lana. Everything changes and when we embrace that we can play an active role in the process. When we refuse to accept change, then it’s a constant struggle.

  12. Mac October 21, 2009 Reply

    People think their dreams are a job. They think it’s the end point for their success and they are set for life of vacations and fun.

    Little do they realize that job they thought would be fun or their ream will get boring and repetitve, without a purpose. The only thing that will get them to continue is to pay bills, help their kids etc.

    What happens between that “i love life” phase to the “I hate life” phase. The loss of freedom, the inability to do things the way you want. You are constantly doing something not because you want to but because your boss told you, or your spouse or your kids. You have so little time you just don’t want to work at life anymore. You just want that freedom, thank god for weekends and beer I suppose…

    if people want to be free, they need to take control, nothing wrong with a job but it should be utilized to obtain more income instead of just I work to pay the bills, but I like work.

    Great post!

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hey Mac, then there are people like me who think that life is an amazing adventure to be savored every step of the way.

  13. Sibyl Chavis October 21, 2009 Reply

    Great article and great list of things we can do to foster that attitude of excitement and optimism. I think people really do need to find those things they can integrate into their life that will allow them to have the right attitude. It just makes life so much more enjoyable and can allow us to experience life in a way we never really have before. It is like finding our own personal magic formula to life and identifying those things we can continually do that will trigger the types of thoughts and emotions that will continually move us in the right direction and help us find our own road to happiness.

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sibyl, as I read your comment I started thinking how our lives can be adjusted to fit our individual tastes much like we would spice up a recipe. With a little creativity we can completely transform the flavor.

  14. Ching Ya October 22, 2009 Reply

    Enthusiasm is what makes a life worthwhile. You’re right, Jonathan. Having goals and anticipation in life is important, regardless how old we are, these will keep us going and energized at all times. Mindset matters a lot. Thanks for this enlightening post. I’ll continue to remind myself to constantly have passion in life, look forward and be enthusiastic about it. =)

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Ching Ya, you always seem like a person with a lot of enthusiasm, so it must be working!

  15. Robin Easton October 22, 2009 Reply

    Dear Jonathan. I just love this.

    Although this is something I live every day and just can’t live without, it does me SO much good to see it confirmed here on your page.

    Waaaay to many adults grow old before they are even thirty. I only begin to REALLY see how people have forgotten how to laugh and be goofy and vibrant and spontaneous. I understand that life can be hard, sometimes VERY hard, but Instead of losing our youthful enthusiasm during these times, hard times are simply even MORE of a reason to laugh, be goofy, vibrant and spontaneous.

    With age I learned something, which you mention in # 7, and that is the harder things got, the harder I looked for things to be thankful for. It really makes a difference to choose what I’m going to identify with. And beyond that, we all just need to learn to LET GO and laugh. Let go and trust our spontaneity. .

    Usually when I do a goofy video on my site it’s really more for me than anyone else. It just keeps my whole life in perspective.

    Thank you for writing this.
    I did me good to see it here on your page. :)

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Robin, we are both blessed in this regard I think. Youthful enthusiasm is an attitude anyone can choose at any age and that’s the choice we’ve both made. Ain’t it great to be alive!

  16. Pam Belding October 24, 2009 Reply

    What an incredible post! Thank you for the “fertilizer” for my positive attitude! I love being able to share my enthusiasm with others, despite some of their initial reactions of disbelief and suspicion. It’s blog posts like this one that help remind me that I am not strange for looking forward to the future; I’m blessed! Thanks again for the reminder!

    • Jonathan March 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Pam, being enthusiastic about the future sure beats the alternatives. Don’t pay any mind to the grumps. You know what they say – misery loves company.

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