By Assunta Ng
Yes, you can, if you don’t fall into the trap of turning into the stereotype of the grumpy old man or woman. How aging can turn folks into being so negative, insensitive, unkind, stubborn, self-centered, and unloving puzzles me.
What I do know is that sort of behavior motivates me to understand what aging is all about–how not to become one of them. Instead, I use aging as a tool to make myself a better human being.
Certainly, there are cranky old folks who disapprove of everything–they find faults, judge characteristics, give little praise.
Age is supposed to mellow disposition, but sometimes it doesn’t. Those grumpies and crankies get upset easily if you don’t follow their ideology. They love to bicker. I can only conclude that they live with hate instead of love.
Is there something inherently wrong with this? Once these crankies chew on a particular target, their brain tends to get stuck, and are unable to shift the direction of our thinking.
And their thinking is strictly limited. It definitely makes them fail to see other important elements to an issue.. Sometimes, important gray areas exist, which deserve examination.
We need to see possibilities. When it comes to communication, we should not attack or attempt to strip others of their dignity and credibility—we should instead focus on problem-solving.
I feel this type of cynicism is common among Asian men who think their age should have earned them the right to force their values and decisions on those who are younger and would probably disagree. The older they get, the more bitter and grouchy they become.
I have developed some anti-aging tips for myself to lead a more fruitful and happy retired life (…when I retire!).
1. Have an open mind
Don’t insist on your old ways. Be receptive to new ideas. Support those who have great ideas. In life, there is give and take.
I can’t recall how many times I have changed my position towards certain political candidates and issues after I attain more information and talk to different groups of people. I don’t consider that as giving in.Changing my mind is never equivalent to a sign of weakness. Simply, it shows flexibility and my ability to gain insight via new information.
Yes, I can easily be persuaded and see many sides of the story. I am doing it not so much for objectivity, but to have a comprehensive picture of people and analysis of issues.
2. Watch your ego
If I am wrong, I would be the first one to say sorry. I am always the first one in my company to admit mistakes. I don’t mind when my sons, friends, and colleagues correct me when I am wrong. In fact, I am lucky that I am in the company of smart people. Taking things personally doesn’t help anybody. Moving forward as quickly as possible is the best approach in life.
I have to confess that I forgive quickly and easily (but not so much forgetting what happened).
3. Maintain your active mind
Brain scientists have found that people can grow their brain cells even when they are in their 80s, as long they keep their mind stimulated and challenged. So keep playing chess, mahjong, and Scrabble. Keep learning new things and gaining new experiences.
It makes you feel fulfilled and happy.
One way to keep your mind engaged is to read the news. Current affairs keep you involved in our world. When you keep up with contemporary information, it helps you to be able to engage friends, family, and anyone interested in discussing what is going on around us.
4. Exercise, exercise, exercise
For a healthy lifestyle, I exercise every day. It enhances my energy level and makes me feel fabulous. Exercise can trigger your brain cells to grow, improve memory, and boost your mood.Many senior clubs offer exercise classes and even ballroom dancing. Why not give it a try? You kill two birds with one stone by meeting new friends and exercising. If you do it together with friends, it always encourages you to continue exercising.
Don’t just exercise, devise a program with the consultation of your doctor just for you.
5. Meet new friends
Be interested in people. Don’t say, “What do I care, I am 80 years old.” My late friend Tama Murotani, who lived until she was 93 years old, was always interested in meeting new and young people. Be curious about people and the community.
That was her secret to longevity.
6. Work with young people
If you don’t have grandchildren to play with, develop a desire to volunteer to help students.
You can volunteer in schools, community centers, and the Rotary Boys and Girls clubs.
Bob Santos, 80-year-old community activist, still volunteers to speak to many groups about the International District. The Asian Weekly Foundation’s summer youth leadership program students loved his tour and speech about the Danny Woo Garden. I am fortunate that I have several young staff members in my office. It makes my life so much more enjoyable to have diverse ideas, life stories, and skills.
7. Surround yourself with positive people
My friend (80+ year old!) Vi Mar is always positive and warm. So is Tosh Okamoto.
The first thing I notice about positive people is their smile. She is often the first person in the room to greet strangers. She has lots of friends and she treats them well.She is fearless, but also thoughtful. A great communicator, Vi is a bridge builder. The Asian community needs more people like Vi and Tosh.
I miss terribly the late Jimmy Mar. Whenever I saw him, he would ask, “What can I do to help?” He spoke with conviction and commitment. What an attitude!
The other inspiration was the late Ark Chinn. His mind was often sharp. He’s always generous, passionate, and supportive of many causes in the community.
8. Anti-aging foods
Make sure to eat your quinoa, grapefruit, and salmon. (end)