Graceful Aging

Have you noticed that you are getting older each day? How long
do you want to live? Have you heard that the average life span is
rising exponentially? Do you know what the ingredients are for
a healthy, happy and long life? Well, many studies of people who
have lived longer than 100 years of age show that there is no
single, special or secret technique for healthy human longevity.
Some research has found that there are two essential factors
that contribute to very high average life spans in some cultures.
The people in these cultures want to live to a ripe old age and
their society and culture also encourages them to live a long
fruitful life. It may be that, if we project that we want a quality-
filled long life, our immune system picks up this message and
accommodates our wish.

Another big factor in longevity seems to be imbedded in the old
adage, “If you don’t use it, then you lose it”. When centenarians
are asked how they did it, they almost always talk about
being quite active physically, mentally and spiritually. They
keep up with the culture around them so that they know what
is happening. They quite often state that they are strongly
motivated “by something beyond themselves”. They almost
always point out that they have good family and friendship
ties. They say that they have learned to deal with conflicts and
difference with others in a collaborative manner.

Most older folk have learned that they had better solve their
issues when they are younger because it will be much harder
to do so when they are older. Often a person’s health gives out
in an area in which their self-maintenance was weak or largely
absent. For example, if they did not reduce their stress at an
earlier age, they often suffer stress-related diseases later on in
life. Most either did not smoke or drink alcohol at all or reduced
their intake as they approached 40, 50 or 60 years of age.
Another major indicator of a long and healthy life span is living
with a sense of balance and being involved in leisure activities,
such as yoga, hiking, traveling, taking courses and volunteering.

For couples, between the ages of 40 and 60, it becomes more
and more imperative for them to increase their skills with regard
to negotiating, sensitivity, nurturing and mature sexuality. After
many years together it sometimes becomes necessary for one
partner to defer to an incapacity or deficiency in the other.
To transcend the “blame shame game” it is very important
to apply “positive attribution” to the other partner, that is,
maintaining recognition that they are doing their best. Often a
long-time loving mate just wants support and reassurance and
their partner offers them advice instead. Sometimes a request
for a hug is misconstrued as a request for sexual intimacy. Many
senior lovers forget to “just ask” like they did when they were
teen-agers. They forget how incredibly special their first kiss
was! They take their higher expectations for granted. Hugs are
always a good ingredient in the recipe for a good life and good
relationships. Hugging is even more important as a person ages
because it does not require a great expenditure of energy. To
enhance the effect of hugging, I recommend being totally silent
during a hug.

In deeper more mature relationships there is another loving
interaction called “cradling”. Cradling is not hugging. Hugging
is two way; cradling is one way. Hugging is about both huggers
giving and receiving in a balanced way. Cradling is about one
partner deeply nurturing the other partner. The other partner is
nearly one hundred percent emotionally receiving. If a loved one
needs to be cradled, then a hug is a poor substitute.

As a person ages their functions tend to slow down and they
need to focus more on the aspects of their life that cause them
to thrive emotionally. Most people report that, as they age, they
find it harder to smoothly transition from one activity to another.
They find that their energy surges and then drops off. They learn
how to get a lot of tasks and planning completed during their
high energy spurts. They age gracefully…