I have always been a believer in having values, manners and morals. I have also been a believer in giving grace and showing kindness to people -- people I know as well as complete strangers. It may sound silly, but sometimes I start to think this is a lost art. Millennials are generally too concerned about their number of friends and followers on social media. People are also busy flying around from work to school, or from their first job to their second job, that they are running on coffee and a one-track mind.
Something that is near to my heart is the aging population. My grandma is one of my best friends and some of my favorite childhood memories include going with her to the nursing home and playing BINGO with her and the residents, then playing “Go Fish” with her when we got home. (The Cover Photo is a picture of her at her 90th birthday party.) These memories had a huge impact on the rest of my life. It would soon shape and mold me into who I am today and my passions in my life.
Now more than ever, I believe we should use the aging population for wisdom and guidance. Obviously, the baby boomers had their own struggles, but things were just different back then. Different in a good way. I’ve put together a list of 5 things we could learn from our elders.
1. Their Attitude
When things aren’t going right, in fact, when everything feels it is going wrong, we need to take a step back and look at what is going well in our life. I know that life gets sad. I also know that it gets really challenging at times. Life is full of ups and downs, but how we react to these things really say a lot about who we are. When life gets difficult, it could always be worse. In fact, someone is praying for your bad day. Shifting our focus and training ourselves to think positively is challenging but in the long run, I believe it is worth it. The elderly knew nothing but to keep pressing on. If they wanted something, they worked hard until they could afford it. If they needed something their neighbor had, they would trade or borrow. They got on their hands and knees, they worked hard, they made up their mind and stuck to it.
2. Their Travels
Sometimes traveling these days seem too planned. I mean, it’s great to have dinner reservations and flight arrangements. It’s super convenient that we can plug addresses and restaurants in our GPS and we will know exactly what time we will get there. Even if we run into traffic, it will calculate that into our drive time so we can tell the friends we are meeting we will be late. Fantastic, right? But think on the flip side of that. Wouldn’t it be great just to hop in the car and not known where you’d end up? Or pack a carry-on, drive to the airport and buy the next ticket to wherever! Think of the experience you would have! I know even the thought of that much spontaneity totally freaks some people out, but you gotta live life, guys.
My grandma and my best friend’s grandma love to tell us story after story of hauling the pop-up camper behind the car and stopping at the KOA Campground for a day or two on their way out to Arizona or Colorado. They smile when they think of the time they were stranded on the side of the road due to a flat tire, trying to figure out what to do. Think of the stories, memories and places you would go. Not trying to get all Dr. Seuss on you, but...
3. Their Work Ethic
Say you are thirsty and need a drink of water. You walk to the cabinet, get out a glass, walk to the kitchen sink and turn the faucet on. Here comes the water as you turn it off, just before it reaches the brim of your glass. Now, think back years ago and how people used to draw water from the wells, carry it in a bucket and back to the house. Can you imagine what life was like during the time where water was not accessible from inside the home? Talk about hard working people!
Many people today think the world owes them something. The reality is, it doesn’t. People feel entitled and it is really bothersome to me. People today forget that the only reason we have the things we do is because people before them either invented or fought for them. Nothing is ever free. Someone pays for it somewhere.
4. Their Love Of Simplicity
Something I am trying to do is to unplug from my phone for at least one hour a day. I am way too dependent on my phone. When I’m not using it for work or school, I just waste time on Facebook or Instagram. It’s beside me or in my hand most of the day. I don’t want to be like this and I want to break these habits. I want to go outside or read a book if I have 30 minutes of free time. I want to know what really brings happiness -- which is sunshine and getting air into my lungs. Not how many follows on social media, which is being constantly shoved in our faces. Some of the elderly people I have been around, just enjoy conversation. They enjoy story telling. They enjoy laughing. I also love talking and laughing, so I find this is something I am able to connect with. Laughter is contagious and so is happiness. They also are generally healthier because they are not worrying, depressed or stressed.
5. Their Activity
I’m just going to be honest: I can’t stand video games. Super Mario Brothers? Yes, of course. But the video games where all you do is kill zombies/people? Heck to the no. Life was so different 50-60 years ago. Their mindset was completely different than it is for millennials today. Although I am in the category, a lot of the time I am confident I was born in the wrong decade. Sure, they worked hard, really hard and some jobs were more physically demanding, but the satisfaction and the enjoyment of kicking your feet up at the end of the day feels better when you actually deserve to do so. The elderly enjoy the simple things like sitting on the front porch or going on walks, playing horseshoes and socializing with others.
Now, more than ever we should use the guidance and wisdom of the elderly. They could be our greatest resource for a balanced life.