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14 Principles for Thoughtful Aging

Pat TaubPat Taub

After blogging about aging for over two years now I challenged myself to come up with guidelines for thoughtful aging. I’ve distilled into 14 principles what I’ve learned from life experience, reading, talking with close friends and interviews with wise women.

Embrace Your Failures

During the 1970’s when I was studying family therapy, I received this advice from Virginia Satir, a California-based family therapist: “Every time you fail, throw a party for yourself.” I would add: treat your failures as a learning experience.

Practice Compassion

Compassion is our better nature. It ushers us into the light. Compassion involves not just compassion for others, but for the self as well. Practice self-care.  Periodically treat yourself  to a massage, fresh flowers, or spend a day in your pj’s.

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland Maine
                                          A compassionate embrace

Tend to Your Soul

Find a spiritual practice that enlarges your soul. Join a church, synagogue or spiritual community. Meditate daily, if only for 10 minutes to start. Unplug from your electronic gadgets for an hour every day.

Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, Maine

Caring for the soul through meditation

 

Practice Gratitude

At the end of each day, journal or tell yourself what you’re grateful for in the preceding day. It can be as small as appreciating a morning’s full sun streaming into your living room.

Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, Maine

Journaling about your gratitude for the day that’s ending

Ask for Help

This practice will become more important the older we get and the more incapacitated. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need a ride or someone to bring you chicken soup when you have a cold.

Volunteer

Every single study I’ve read on leading a meaningful life attests to the importance of volunteering to help others. Volunteering generates positive feelings in those who volunteer, which can run the gamut from helping-out at a soup kitchen or reaching out to a friend who’s suffered a loss. As communal bonds disappear, volunteering is a great way to help restore community.

Pat Taub, WOW blog,Portland, Maine

Volunteering at a Soup Kitchen

Laugh and Smile More

When feeling down try to see the humor in a situation. It can help to laugh at yourself. Greet strangers with a big smile. Awaken your inner Dalai Lama.

Cultivate Your Friendships

Spend time with close friends. Welcome them into your home for tea or a potluck. Befriend that lonely women you may have noticed at church or in a class you attend. Send Thank You notes.

 

Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, Maine

A gathering of close friends

Take Naps

I love my 25-minute power naps. As a friend once remarked, quoting Shakespeare: “Naps are nature’s nurse.”

Get Outside as Much as Possible

If you live in the country, walk in the woods. If you live in a city, walk around your neighborhood or make a city park your destination. Talk to the trees.

Be a Citizen of the World

Be an agent of change in whatever way you can: join a local protest action or political study group; give money to progressive causes; speak up when you see injustice, especially around racism.

Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, Maine

Members of the Radical Age Movement, formed to protest ageism

Fight Ageism

Shake off the ageist and sexist cultural stereotypes that define aging as a disease or a state of decay, rather than one of continuing growth. Embrace role models like Diana Athill who at 98 still writes and publishes.

Don’t be Paralyzed by Fears of Death

It’s natural to fear death but don’t let this eventuality overcome you. Prepare for your death. Have a do-not-resuscitate order in place. Talk to loved ones about how you want to be treated when you are dying. Educate yourself about the services of Hospice and of death doulas, nurses who offer caring, spiritual guidance at the end of life.

Pat Taub, WOW Blog, Portland, Maine

A Hospice doctor and patient

Above All, Have Fun!

Just because your body is slowing down doesn’t preclude you from a full enjoyment of life. Be silly with your grandkids. My father loved practical jokes and played them on his family up until the end of his life.

 

Pat Taub is a family therapist, writer and activist and life-long feminist. She hopes that WOW will start a conversation among other older women who are fed up with the ageism and sexism in our culture and are looking for cohorts to affirm their value as an older woman.

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