Itâ€™s quite common for our modern culture to imagine and portray aging people as settling into a sedentary or declining life. But thatâ€™s not the type of eldership I had envisioned for myself, nor is it the one that I want for you.
After devoting decades to being a wife, mother and career woman, I knew that I had earned the right to pursue my passions and wanted to make sure I savored all that life had to offer me. But how did I stay on that path? I started by reclaiming my childlike sense of wonder and joy, which enlivened me and naturally led to more fulfillment in my everyday life than I had ever dreamed possible.
How does one reconnect with their childlike self? Here are eight practices to help you foster those youthful feelings:
- Day dream. Lie on your back on the grass or beach and admire the beauty of the sky. Just observe. Watch the clouds, birds or palm trees sway. Think back to when you were a child. What adventures did you dream up for yourself? What magical moments meant the most to you, and why? How might you be able to reincorporate some of that enchantment back into your days?
- Stay in the present moment, limiting distractions. When we are children, the present moment is everything. During a one-block walk, an adult is likely to notice the road and distance traveled, while a child will see a bird, some flowers, a cool twisted tree, and a cloud that looked like a dog. When you can stay in the moment, observing your surroundings, you open yourself to the universe at-large. For example, you might meet a new friend who you wouldâ€™ve missed if you were focused on your phone. Or perhaps an animal will cross your path that wants to remind you of their symbolic ways. Every animal has a unique message and reminder for us.
- Get in touch with what excites you. What did you love in your youth? Were you a nature lover? Or perhaps aerospace technology has always held your fascination. Did any form of art uplift, inspire or feed you? We all have interests as a child that get left by the wayside. What hobbies get your inner kid excited? Itâ€™s time to play again.
- Arts and crafts. Be the artist, no matter your talent, experience or skill. Art gives you direct access to your inner child. Draw, paint, make a collage. Have fun with it. Creativity begets creativity, so the more you allot time for it, the more itâ€™ll stimulate your mind and feed your soul.
- Take in the art created by others. What were your favorite books, paintings, music and movies as a child? Put on some fun music and dance around the living room. It will uplift your spirits and get those creative juices flowing.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Do something unexpected. What would delight you to no end and have your friends saying, â€œYou did what?â€ When you surprise yourself by stepping out of routine, it shakes up the stagnant energy and creates movement that will help you expand your horizons.
- Ignore what others think of you. One advantage of living half-a-century or more on this planet is that you know what makes you happy, and youâ€™ve (hopefully) learned to give up on trying to please other people, for the sake of yourself. So be bold and don your brightest and wildest outfit. Sit on the beach and build a sandcastle. Dance like nobodyâ€™s watching. Say what you want to say. Be who you want to be. Because if it makes you happy, who cares what others think? You deserve to enjoy every moment of this precious life. And guess what? Happiness is contagious.
- Spend quality time in nature at least three days per week. Going out into nature replenishes and nurtures our body, mind and soul. Take a mental note of how you feel before you go outside. Then take a walk or sit in stillness for 20 minutes or more. Allow all of your senses to be filled with the magic of your surroundings. Notice the ways you feel different or better after your quality time in nature. Write it down in a journal if it helps.
The elder phase of life is not all about waning. Itâ€™s about coming full-circle with who we were as a child to become enlivened and whole. Magic happens when the wisdom and visions of eldership connect with the spontaneous aspirations of youth. By connecting with your inner child, youâ€™ll recapture lost passions and move out of potential ruts.
The mundane might leave you feeling empty and bored, but when you indulge in childlike fascination, your life can be filled with connection, playfulness and purpose.
Lucinda Bakken White, who wrote this article, is the author of â€œConfessions of a Bone Woman: Realizing Authentic Wildness in a Civilized World.â€ She can be reached at http://lucindabakkenwhite.com/