Tis the season to be thankful! As Thanksgiving approaches, we shift to a space of reflection and practice gratitude for all that has happened this year. Like all things, the process of aging can present its fair set of challenges, but the positive aspects of old age drastically outweigh the negatives. American Standard highlights things to be thankful for this season and year round. From the financial perks like senior discounts and Medicare to the wonderful knowledge that can only come with decades of experience, there is a multitude of things to be thankful for as we age.
Top Advantages of Old Age
- 1. Wisdom (From Learned Experience). The saying, “experience is the best teacher” exists for a reason. That’s because experience brings about wisdom that can’t be learned otherwise. You learn more from things that happen to you in real life than you ever will from studying things that happen to other people. Along with the wisdom that comes from learned experience, another advantage of old age is the ability to empathize. Empathy is sensing other people’s emotions and imagining what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
- 2. A Happier Outlook. Perspective has a way of showing you that ultimately, life always works out. In fact, researchers are beginning to uncover the biological and developmental underpinnings of gratitude that suggest it may be easier to feel grateful as we grow older. Neuroscientists have suggested older people have a sunnier outlook because the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in emotional attention and memory, becomes less active in response to the negative information. At the same time, older individuals maintain or even increase their reactivity to positive information.
- 3. Opportunity to Pursue Lifelong Dreams. Many aging adults have reached the age of retirement. Not working gives retirees 40+ hours of free time back every week which can be dedicated to pursuing other lifelong passions and dreams.
- 4. Financial Perks. One of the obvious positive aspects of old age is the opportunity to money. Governmental programs include guaranteed minimum income for seniors supported by Medicare and Social Security. There are also an abundance of senior discounts, including those specific to travel, dining, and shopping.
- 5. More Time for Loved Ones. More free time usually translates to more time to spend with those who really matter. Which brings us to our next advantage of old age…
- 6. Grandchildren. What’s better than your own children? Grandchildren. The experience of raising your own children makes you value your grandchildren that much more. They offer the love and fulfilling relationship, with a less responsibility.
- 7. More Stable Friendships and Relationships. By the time you’ve reached old age, you’ve likely been able to filter through toxic friendships and relationships that suck the life out of you. Having and maintaining quality friendships and relationships contribute to companionship, which is a huge factor for longevity.
- 8. Good Stories to Tell. Who doesn’t appreciate a good story? The longer you live, the more experiences you have, which translates to more good stories to tell. Fond memories, whether kept to yourself or told to someone else, are a huge advantage of old age.
- 9. A Greater Sense of Self. The older you are, the more you know WHO you are. Having a greater sense of who you are allows you to be less influenced by outside opinion and less bound by cultural restraints. When you have a greater sense of self, decision making is easier. Knowing yourself allows you to be yourself, and no one can say you’re doing it wrong!
Now that you have plenty of things to be grateful for, let’s look at fun ways to practice that gratitude!
Best Ways to Practice Gratitude
- 1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Spend a few minutes each night thinking about three to five highlights from your day, then write them down. You can reflect upon your gratitude journal whenever you need to be reminded of all the things you are thankful for.
- 2. Set Reminders in Your Phone. Harness technology for good and put in subtle reminders every day to be thankful. Reminders can come in the form of an inspirational quote, a compliment to yourself, or a simple activity like looking outside and admiring the changing colors of the leaves.
- 3. Take Three Deep Breaths. This easy practice can allow for one simple moment of gratitude. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, and start the flow of thankful energy. Be grateful for your breath, because you wouldn’t be here without it. Continue to meditate in that gratitude for a few seconds or longer if you choose.
- 4. Say Thank You. Say thank you to everyone in your life, from friends and family to colleagues to the check out person at the grocery store. Verbalizing your gratitude is a great way to cultivate it.
- 5. Smile. Smiling makes your brain happy and it’s proven by science. When a smile flashes across your face; dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are all released into your bloodstream, making you more relaxed. Pick a day where you will smile at three random people as you walk by them, which communicates a sense of oneness and well-being.
- 6. Reach Out and Express It. Send a text message, make a phone call, write a post on social media. A simple “thank you for making my life brighter” message, in any format, can go a long way to both the giver and the receiver.
- 7. Give Compliments Daily. Whether you know the person or not, give compliments away as you think of them. Be genuine and specific. When Mark Twain said, “I can live two months on a good compliment,” he only told one side of the story. While the individual who receives the praise will appreciate feeling noticed and valued (and is motivated to do more of the same), the giver can also delight in the connection.
- 8. Put Inspirational Quotes Around Your House. Whether it’s written hastily on a Post-It note or framed as a piece of art, inspirational quotes and images can serve as reminders to be grateful around your house. That way, every time you sit down at your desk or walk down a particular hallway, that subtle reminder is there.
- 9. Slow Down and Savor the Small Things. Choose one everyday experience and take time to enjoy every aspect of it. For example, if you take a walk in the morning, take in all the sights, sounds, and smells. Appreciating the small things will only allow for greater appreciation of the big things.
There is never a shortage of things to be thankful for if we just take the time to look. This Thanksgiving, be sure to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” that can last throughout the year.