The 4 Simple Steps to Growing Gracefully

(Excerpt from Pain, Passion & Purpose )

In our youth-obsessed culture it can be difficult to embrace the changes that age brings. Many of us cling to the past – to a time when we most projected the world’s image of beauty and success. Unfortunately, trying to hold on to the past is like trying to carry water in your hands; it always slips through your fingers. Although we can’t stay 35 forever, we can maximize the benefits of our current age while bringing along the wisdom we’ve gained from the past. There’s a deeper, more profound happiness available to us with every year that passes. We can begin to embrace the process of aging gracefully by following these four steps:

Success is this way
Success is this way (Photo credit: RambergMediaImages)

Keep forward momentumWe’re meant to keep learning and growing. By continuing to challenge ourselves we prevent becoming stuck in the past. There’s no need to cling to previous accomplishments when we’re constantly creating new ones. Our goals don’t have to be lofty – but forward momentum offers us inner fulfillment and reminds us that were still vital individuals with much to offer the world.

Set the wheels in motionMaking progress in our lives doesn’t happen on its own, however. It’s up to each of us to take the steps necessary to keep our lives fresh and new. That means being proactive and taking the initiative to create change. With each new challenge conquered, we become more empowered going into the next one. Pretty soon, we learn to delight in new opportunities and live our lives with a sense of renewed enthusiasm and abandon.

Heal past hurts – Getting older also offers us the chance to resolve issues that have haunted us. As our lives begin to slow down a bit, we can place more of our on energies on healing these areas of our lives. The old adage “Time heals all wounds” may not be completely true, but it does offer us the gift of perspective. By finally conquering those old demons, we can reclaim our emotional freedom and redefine ourselves in a way that reflects our greatest authenticity. 

Find balanceGrowing with grace also means finding a balance of our whole identity – Mind, Body and Spirit. Early in our lives, we place most of our energies on mental pursuits. But as our lives become more established, that slows down and our bodies begin to scream out for some much-needed attention. In addition, we begin to feel the call of our Spirits speaking in louder and louder tones – reminding us that there’s more to life than the daily grind of duties that we’ve busied ourselves with for so long. By following these natural inclinations we often find a new, more complete sense of happiness, simply because we’ve been forced to acknowledge every aspect of our being. The result is a deeper sense of inner peace than we’ve ever experienced before.

Happy old folks

But perhaps the greatest gift that aging gives us is the ability to finally feel comfortable in our own skin (even if that skin isn’t quite as toned as it used to be!) We come to realize that we’re more than just our jobs, social status and bank accounts. In fact, we’ve now lived long enough to have an inkling of our own unique offerings to this world. Those wondrous capabilities are our souls shining through. By allowing ourselves to become a reflection of all the great qualities we’ve honed over the years, we serve not only as an example to others, but also as a powerful instrument of change in creating a better world.

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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.

How to Handle those Uninspired Moments

Days like yesterday (and the day before) remind me of how fragile one’s state of mind can be. While I’m usually able to stay relatively motivated, grateful of my blessings and hopeful for the future – there are times when all of it seems to desert me and leave me feeling…empty and vulnerable. I’m not exactly sure why these occasional moods descend upon me – but I suspect that there must be a greater reason.

The Possible Culprits:

Physiological – Is it the result of hunger, fatigue, sleep deprivation, or a prelude to getting sick?

Environmental – Is dreary weather contributing to my moods – is it rainy, cloudy or dark?

Sociological – Am I soaking up the prevalent moods of those around me?

Psychological – Is my mental focus subtly shifting towards more emphasis on what’s wrong with my life rather than what’s right with it? Am I placing more of my thoughts on future goals that haven’t yet been met instead of focusing on in the present?

Spiritual – Could these empty moments serve as fertile ground to rethink situations, abandon old plans and possibly plant some new seeds for the future? Perhaps feeling uninspired with the current path offers us a neutral moment to redesign a future that will better please us?

Yet, with age and experience, I’ve discovered that these moments are best handled by taking the position of an unbiased observer.  I try to distance myself from the feelings and analyze them from a neutral space. Making big, sweeping changes from this state of mind is almost always the wrong thing to do.  Yet I can sometimes gain greater clarification on my thoughts through the examination.

My friend once gave me some awesome advice about navigating those miserable, moody moments.  He said to silently address those feelings by saying,

“I see you there – and you can stay if you want to – but I’m not going to give you any power.”

This advice has been extremely helpful to me.  It establishes a non-combative way of acknowledging your feelings without feeding the monster.  My main goal in life – the one that supersedes everything else – is to maintain my hard-earned inner peace and nurture my happiness, and this simple motto allows me to do that.

Heeding this motto –  along with reversing the possible causes above – puts me back in a power position and allows me to ride out the storm from a more knowledgeable place.  It works like this:

Back it Up!

Physiological – I address my own needs just as I would a baby’s. Do I need to eat, sleep, or change something in my immediate environment?  Taking measures to increase my own physical comfort is crucial now.

Environmental – If the weather has me homebound – then I willingly give into it – abandoning any other plans that I may have had. Instead, I search for activities that are best suited to this moment and then allow myself to engage in them without any guilt or regrets.  This may be the opportunity for much-needed downtime that I’ve been hoping for.

Sociological – I consciously take stock of the moods and situations of those around me. Grumpiness is contagious – and I make it my goal to allow others their feelings – without making them my own.

Psychological – These moments are no time for long-term planning!  I immerse myself only in this current moment – right now – and actively do a gratitude assessment. You haven’t lived this long without already achieving some awesome things.  Take these down moments to honor them by acknowledging their presence in your life. Just because you’ve already have them doesn’t mean you should take them for granted.

Spiritual – From gratitude comes the inner knowledge that something wonderful is at work in our lives – and always has been. It presents unlimited possibilities, and new beginnings – unending opportunities to find even more fulfillment. Ironically, it’s in these moments when we feel the most alone – that we realize that we’ve never really been alone at all. Something wonderful travels alongside us, offering a safe place to fall on days like these, and then lifts us back up and places our feet squarely upon the road to our next adventure. When you realize that – then you don’t have to know where you’re going – all you have to do is show up!

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Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose. Copyright © 2013 Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address.