The Quest for Joyful, Vibrant Aging

By Don Arnoudse

been feeling the pain of transitions lately. Or as my wife observed,
“You seem troubled”. Perhaps not a big deal—but for someone who lives
life as a perennial optimist, a bit unusual. So what’s going on?

interpretation I have is that I’m just gearing up for what’s next. It’s
a familiar indicator for me to feel restless, a bit irritable, even
fearful as I come to (or beyond) the natural end of a particular phase
and pause in that “white space” between saying “Goodbye” to one chapter
and “Hello” to something new. I never enjoy it, but it is familiar.

I get ready to enter my 60s in six months or so, I’ve been thinking
about how I want to age. I rebel against the messages I receive from
many sources to gradually “retire” from work, to begin taking it
easier, to turn my attention to leisure, to consumption, to spend more
time observing others on the playing field of life while I sit, with
others my age, on the sidelines. In many ways I feel like I’m just
getting started.

I said goodbye to my son and daughter this
weekend as they left home for their last year of college. I feel very
proud of who they are and how they are moving through life. At the same
time, I am beginning to anticipate the next big transition for them
from the somewhat protected life of college to the big world of “making
a life on your own”.

My wife and I are in this long conversation
about selling our family home and moving to a smaller house or even a
condo somewhere. I find myself resisting the move, and even the
conversation sometimes. I’m not really so attached to our neighborhood
or even our town, but perhaps I’m still holding on to this phase of my
life. It was in this house that we raised our kids, I sold my business
and started a new career as a management consultant and an executive
coach. What milestones will we pass in our next home? And when will I
be ready to complete this phase and embrace what’s next?

I am
committed to living my “2nd half” in a joyful, vibrant manner. But what
does that mean exactly? I’m learning that it includes learning lots of
new things, meeting new people, sustaining my connections with old
friends, taking new risks at work and in life, and also, that it comes
with some fear and anxiety. I’m reminded that courage is meaningless
without risk and the fear that comes with it. So it takes courage to
become older without “getting old”. It takes courage to stay fully
engaged in life and to continue to take chances where you might fail.
It takes courage to stay vibrant.

I’m also clear on the
connection between gratitude and joy. To truly fill my heart with joy
and to literally vibrate with happiness starts with a deep and
practiced gratitude. The idea of gratitude as a practice is still new
to me but I am beginning to get it. I now include a prayer of gratitude
each day as a morning and evening ritual. It calms me, gives me some
satisfaction and allows me to approach the world as a friendly place
rather than the house of horrors portrayed on the news channels day
after day.

My quest continues. How about yours?