Iím rejoicing! Iíve just read good news
about the possibilities for our future thinking abilities. Thereís a wonderful
book by Richard Restak and published by the National Geographic Society called
Mysteries of the Mind. In it Restak states that we are able to have some
influence on how our mind develops as we age. He says, "...we can passively
allow our brains to atrophy [waste away], due to a lack of interest in and
connections with the people and events in the world, or we can enhance the
wonderful complexity of the brain we have. The choice is ours."
For me, the key to this statement lies in
his reference to "interest in and connections with...people and events..."
We especially need to stay connected with other people, at least in our own
world. Itís so easy to withdraw into ourselves and focus on every little
problem or discomfort that arises. Thatís when we become cranky, self-centered
old fuddy duddies that no one wants to be near. It becomes a snowball effect.
The self-centered behavior drives others, even our families, away. This, then,
forces us to turn in on ourselves and makes us even more self-centered and
The answer, of course, is to develop
connections and show an interest in other people. Some of the most interesting
people Iíve met are volunteers, for all sorts of organizationsĖor even
individuals. In fact, you can find an opportunity to serve others that will
permit you to satisfy your own interests while you are helping them.
I met a woman recently who, at age 84, is
caring for developmentally disabled children in her home. Her face lighted up as
she told me about the good feelings she has in sharing her life and her love
with them. A man I heard about raises earthworms and gives them to the local zoo
and a rehabilitation center for wounded birds. If youíre interested in
politics, you can volunteer in political campaigns, and if you love to read, you
can help at the local library. A friend told me about his parents who deliver
tapes of their ministerís sermons to home-bound people, and a whole staff of
volunteers deliver meals to home-bound and older people through the Meals on
Wheels programs. The possibilities are endless.
The point is, when youíre helping others,
youíre turning your thoughts on them and their needs, and you forget about
your own problems. Problems and pains seem to diminish when we arenít paying
attention to them. Thatís not to say that we should ignore serious illness.
But once weíve taken action to do everything possible to correct the problem,
then itís time to turn our attention away from ourselves and focus on the rest
of the world. Then when we get together with family or friends, we have
something to talk about besides our problems and gripes. We become more
interesting to them, and they seek us out because we have something to offer to
The biggest bonus of all is that when we are
turning our attention on the service weíre giving to others; we are
challenging our minds and keeping our brains active and alert. We actually
replenish ourselves and satisfy our own self needs in the process. As they say,
"What goes around, comes around." We are the greatest beneficiaries of
So what do you chooseĖwithering,
self-centered decay, or rewarding, self-replenishing focus on others? Itís
your choice. Make it one thatís good for everyone.
Caroline Corser, Cheerleader for Positive Lifestyles, speaks to baby boomers and seniors about filling your life with laughter and play. She can be reached at 661-871-9201 or caroline@AwesomeAging.com
Caroline now to engage her as a keynote
567 W. Channel Islands Blvd., #240