Growing old gracefully requires a positive attitude

A couple of years ago I was asked to speak to a group of women about growing old gracefully. I was perplexed why they thought I should speak on the subject. Yes, I am growing old, but gracefully? Mmmmm, not so much.

Since that time I’ve given a revised and re-revised version of the talk a few times. Monday I had the pleasure of having lunch and talking to the EI chapter of the P.E.O., a group that promotes educational opportunities for women.

After I spoke I asked them to do me a favor: Write down their first name, their age, the age they thought would be considered “old” and what they did to stay young.

I couldn’t wait to get home to read what they wrote. I’ll condense it because it was a good-sized group. And by the way, everyone in the audience was past 60.

The question regarding the age that is considered old brought numbers from 70 to 110. But I liked what Jackie, Elise and Prissy, all 80, had to say. They maintain “old” is always 10 years older than they are. Jackie advises to keep smiling. Elise says it’s best to think young and not say, “I’m getting old.” Prissy says to be grateful for each day.

Barbara, 73, and Jody, 76, give their husbands some credit. “Enjoying every moment and loving each and every day I have with my husband” is what Barbara says keeps her young.

“A happy marriage. Marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100 percent. And you get it in return,” Jody said.

The power of positive thinking was written on several cards. These women were so positive and upbeat I left there inspired and smiling. And they weren’t even drinking wine.

Barbara, Marilyn, Elizabeth and Rebecca, ranging in age from 62 to 81, said their faith helps keep them young and positive.

Several women mentioned the importance of keeping your body and mind active. Mary, 88, said to read and do things that are worthwhile. Beverly, 79, said to read, but also do crossword puzzles, and have an interest in people young and old.

Volunteering was another suggestion. Debbie, 61, says she thinks old is around age 75. I bet she’ll change that number about the time she hits 70. But she says it helps keep her young to mentor young adults in their 20s who are coming out of homelessness.

Exercise, especially walking, was written on several cards. Christie, 65, advises eating more fruits and vegetables. Georgia, 90, says to stay young you must “eat properly and exercise regularly.” She appears to be doing just that.

These ladies told me they cherish long friendships and enjoy making new friends. And of course they commented on the importance of family.

If you’re past the age of 40 none of this is big news, but it was fun to see a group of philanthropic women who come together regularly for a meal, a meeting and a whole lot of fun.

When my next birthday rolls around it’s a “biggie,” as my mom used to say. That day I’m going to stay away from my magnifying mirror, have a positive attitude and smile all day. It’s been proven you look younger when you smile. My mantra will be “age is just a number.”

Time goes faster and faster with no way to slow it down. So let’s just laugh. At least laughing, sometimes at ourselves, will keep us young at heart.

Reach Bonnie Bing at bingbylines@gmail.com