No matter what age you are, change is hard to deal with. Humans experience time in fragments, moment by moment, room by room, situation by situation. When we are confronted by a landscape-shifting reality, it can be hard to find solid footing. But these challenges are especially tough when you throw aging into the mix. We’re here to help you improve at coping with change, because as the great Flannery O’Connor once wrote, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
The art of acceptance
The hardest part about change is that it is, almost inevitably, out of our control. Especially when it comes from external forces, change can be a totally disorienting force. One of the best things to do in the face of such change? Figure out what you can do to adjust. Perhaps even more important, figure out what you can’t do. As author Dave Bernard wrote in this story from US News and World Report, “Accepting our limitations does not mean we must take a seat on the sidelines. Rather than focus on what we cannot do, we might find some satisfaction and even joy in what we are still able to accomplish as the years tick on by.”
Acceptance as a form of coping with change is easier said than done, of course. So much of our lives are spent worrying (as much as 6.5 years of our lives on average, according to one study) that it can be a hard habit to break. Allow us to try: We will now practice the art of accepting that we don’t have the best words to describe acceptance. We’ll leave it up to the great Ralph Ellison. He once said, “Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”
Change is hardly ever totally negative. The best way to cope with even devastating, confusing variation? Find the silver lining in the cloud. Bernard gives a great example when he mentions the physical limitations of getting older. We may not be as physical as we once were, but if we focus on what we still can do, rather than what we have lost, we will have a much better outlook.
This way of thinking can have tangibly positive consequences. According to this Huffington Post article, whereas negative thinking “narrow[s] your mind and focus[es] your thoughts,” positive emotions allow you to “see more possibilities in your life.” Changes due to aging don’t have to restrict your life. With a lot of focus, discipline and the right outlook, they may even expand it.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.