How can I tell if I’m living my life the best way I can? That question pop into my mind all of a sudden. Actually, I was talking with someone who asked me what I do, now that I’m retired. I started thinking about all of the answers I had given before: “I do some part-time work,” “I fix-up my old house,” “I blog,” and sometimes, I give the smart-alec answer of, “I do whatever I want.” But, is this living my life the best possible way? I think my answers don’t necessarily reflect someone who appears to be living a life the best way he can.
So, how can I tell if I’m living my life the best way I can? One possible way is when I think my life is full of what I like to do and I’m comfortable, both mentally and physically. I think this happens when I’m optimistic about the future, but at the same time, I’m happy to be present in the present. I’m living my life the best way I can when I’m happy being the best I can be. That means accepting who I am and feeling comfortable with the person I’m becoming.
You see, being retired and one year from Medicare, places me in an interesting societal nuance. Role models of lively and active people my age tend to be actors in advertisements featuring health problems. For example, a person my age will be portrayed as having a frequent urination problem – s/he will take an advertised medicine and then will become lively, active and shown smiling while walking pass a restroom. On the other hand, most active and lively people used in commercials and movies are in an age group of 18 – 30 years old.
Now, it is important to take medicine when needed to cure an ailment. But, if I am going to live my life the best way I can, I need to see myself as a lively and active person without necessarily having to take medicine. That means, ailments need to be shrugged-off as much as possible. I shouldn’t dwell on them, especially the aches and pains. Generally, we are what we think we are and we all should concentrate on keeping our mental health sound.
Life expectancy is up from just 45 in 1900, to 75 for men and over 80 for women in 2010. According to the Social Security Actuarial Life Table, I’m projected to live until I’m 84. That’s quite an increase in life expectancy since the beginning of the 20th century! Of course there is a likelihood of some physical decline as I get older, but what about my mental health? Being older doesn’t necessarily mean that I will have mental problems. In spite of the fact that physical and mental health are interrelated, I think I have a better chance of staying strong mentally than I do physically.
I compare the mental aspect of my life to that of an engine and the physical aspect to the case or body that holds the engine. The purpose of the case is to protect and enable the engine to operate as it was designed. The case will naturally be affected by the outside elements just as our bodies are. The engine is affected by how it is maintained just as our minds are. With proper care and creativity, the engine can operate well even though the case or body is broken. So it is with our minds.
How (can we) and what (should we do to) keep our minds healthy? First, as much as possible, ignore aches and pains. Instead of focusing on aches and pains that comes with age, concentrate on mental growth and the improvement of the quality of thinking. Don’t fear or be threatened by change, since life depends upon it. When change occurs, respond with a sense of purpose, a desire to learn and lots of patience. Be present in the present and optimistic about the future. Use the past as a teacher and fear only fear. In summary, take control of your own mind so you can better control your life.
But, are you living your life the best possible way? After focusing on keeping our minds and bodies as healthy as possible, how do we know if we are living our lives the best possible way?
Please consider the following questions.
Most of the time:
Do you love what you are doing?
Are you comfortable with who you are?
Do you admit your mistakes and try to learn from them?
Are you looking forward to the future?
Do you accept change as a necessary part of life?
Are you content with accepting your life?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you’re well on your way to living your life the best possible way. If you answered no to any of them, it’s time for you to do some work on your “engine!” :-)