Many of the people I work with in the nursing home don’t seem to have much going on in their old age. They sit and stare into space or at the television screen until it is time for bed or their next meal. Whatever leisure activities they enjoyed in the past either cannot be completed in the nursing home setting or they have lost the interest or ability to participate.
I have worked with some elderly patients in their home as well and some of them are in the same position. They wait for the phone to ring, for their favorite game show or for a visitor to stop by. I want more in my old age! I want to be more like Mother Fran and other seniors who still know how to live life with a purpose.
I can remember sitting around the table and my sister-in-law asking everyone for their highs and lows of the day. She wanted to know the high point and the low point of each persons day. It was a great way to connect with each other, to share some important aspects of what happened that day and how you were feeling about it. On Thanksgiving, she would ask each of us to state what we were grateful for that day. She was ahead of her time in terms of understanding the benefits of expressing gratitude.
I’ve read about a gratitude exercise where every day you write down on a slip of paper something for which you are grateful. At the end of the year you can pull out those slips of paper and review them. Right here in My Little Blue Kayak, I have written about gratitude many times, including here and here. It seems that being grateful is all the rage!
I like to think of myself as a simple, easy-going person. A person who is happy-go-lucky and lighthearted. I have been told however that there is a lot going on under the surface that makes me a bit more complicated than I wish to be. I guess this is true for many of us.
I often feel like there is an angel on one shoulder letting us see the good in everyone we meet and a devil on the other shoulder encouraging us to judge others. The angel reminds us that people are human and often make mistakes. When we listen to the angel, we can take a harsh word in stride and ignore the buzz of negative energy while maintaining a positive outlook.