Like Fine Wine—the Practical Side
Whether or not you drink wine, you are most likely familiar with the saying, “I am like fine wine. I only get better with age.” Many people use this phrase jokingly, but I think most of us like to believe that we are getting better as time goes by. By better I don’t necessarily mean thinner, stronger or more attractive. When I think of getting better as time goes by or “aging well,” I think of personal growth, attainment of life goals, emotional strength and the ability to contribute to and receive meaning and love from deep, personal relationships. Perhaps most importantly, I think aging well means possessing the fortitude to weather whatever life offers no matter how beautiful, surprising or challenging life may be.
Aging well—like a fine wine—requires acceptance, adaptability and a good sense of humor. Some good friends and positive coping skills don’t hurt either. Think of an older person you know who is less than happy. I would bet that they are somewhat bitter, get frustrated by what they CANNOT do and spend little time engaging in enjoyable activities that suit their age and ability. They may also lack a positive support system. Now think of an older person you know who is content—even joyful at times. What do they do? Do they engage with friends and spend time on their interests and hobbies? If suffering with illness or disease do they still find time to engage with others or appreciate people, art or nature in the moments they are able/well enough? Do they “roll with the punches” of life, so to speak?
Let me give you an example. The father of one of my closest friends is 68 years old. He is a cancer survivor, has some hearing loss from the Vietnam War and has had 3 open heart surgeries in the past 5 years. He also recently had his knee replaced and will have shoulder surgery in the near future. We will call him Joe. He has many health problems—more than I can expound upon here. Yet, Joe is one of the most content and fulfilled people I know. Joe is married and has many friends. He lives on the water here in Florida. When he is well enough, he spends time fishing, walking and swimming. He also spends time weekly with a close circle of friends. When his health is struggling, Joe still enjoys looking at the ocean and talking to his friends on the phone or just playing solitaire. He is still in love with his sweet wife and continues to enjoy her companionship after all of these years. In fact, they recently sailed to the Keys together on a friend’s boat just to “have an adventure.”
I have had many talks with Joe about his health and all he has been through including cancer and 2 of his heart surgeries happening in just a 3 month span. He never complains–though he has of course expressed frustration at times regarding his health—and he ALWAYS has a smile and a hug for others. Joe has shared that his ability to weather these later years in his life comes from his determination to be flexible and roll with whatever hand life deals him AND his resolve that as long as he is alive his life has meaning. Joe makes the most of every day and practices gratitude regularly—expressing thanks for each day and whatever that day may hold. He is a kind and not to mention fun soul to spend time with.
I will speak more to the idea of flexibility and aging well in part 2 of this blog. For now, if you are facing a difficult life season, struggling with the aging process or illness, or are dealing with any other mental health issue, a seasoned Orlando psychotherapist can help you. She can ensure that you learn and implement the skills you need to live your best life now and always. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.