Do you sometimes wake up feeling like … “O-M-G!” — but you haven’t had a big night partying and you’re thinking “I feel sooo awful, I must be getting old…”? Well think again, because if you are medically and mentally healthy and reasonably active, your age has nothing to do with how you feel!
How would I know? Well I just have to look at Jack, my 93-year-old father-in-law.
Jack still lives in the same house in the small town of Oamaru, New Zealand he built for himself and his wife, Iris, almost 65 years ago. Sadly we lost Iris — the love of Jack’s life — to a stroke about 15 years ago.
That didn’t stop Jack from continuing to be an active member of the local ‘over-60s club’ (average age 80 years or so!). It also didn’t stop him and a few mates from that club booking an ocean cruise to the islands — they shared a cabin — and in fact he’s already booked another cruise for next year with the same mates!
Part of Jack’s ‘active life’ has revolved around him being involved in the local operatic theatre building sets. He’s also a very good ballroom dancer, and also got up very early each morning as a horse trainer all of which I believe has contributed to his overall general health. And no — he’s never been to a gym in his life!
I was amazed what he did a few years ago — Jack was about to turn 90, when he booked a flight from Christchurch to Sydney to come and visit us. A 3-hour bus trip followed by a 3-hour flight then my wife met him at the airport and took him out to a ‘first night’ theatre show he’s wanted to see. I’m exhausted even thinking about it! Okay, yes… he did have a bit of a sleep in the next day but the rest of his stay was always ‘active’.
Remember, this is a 90-year-old man. Walking almost 2km up moderate hills to our local train station, taking himself into the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Spending the day doing ‘touristy things’ by himself (we still work, so were not always able to be with him).
His visits with us usually lasted two weeks. Interestingly enough the bottle of Scotch Whiskey he bought duty free just managed to last that amount of time… Funny that eh?
Yet the most amazing thing — and something that actually taught me a lot about life as we get older — was his reply to my question, “Jack why do you think you are so happy?” He shrugged his shoulders, gave a little giggle and replied, “I don’t worry about anything”.
I was stunned. That’s it?!! Wow, if I could bottle that I’d be wealthy, but then that’s all about money right? Jack doesn’t worry about money. He’s certainly not wealthy, but he lives a frugal life. He doesn’t worry about age or old friendships that may have turned sour. He holds no grudges or regrets and is happy with what he does and grateful he can live the life he does. Basically living life one day at a time — with the occasional saving and planning ahead for another ocean cruise.
If you’re 60-plus and starting to ‘feel old’ just remember, ‘age is not a disease’. Life is meant to be lived every single day without all the garbage from the previous years clogging up our ‘happiness buttons’.
We do need to get out and about a bit more and remain active (I just bought my wife and I two pushbikes for that very reason!) but rule number one for a happy life — according to 93-year-old Jack — seems to be ‘don’t worry about anything’. Just be happy, okay.