What can possibly be funny about getting older? I remember laughing in my 30’s when I heard people older than I talk about their body aches and pains, their slower energy or complete lack of energy, their forgetfulness. Now, in my late 60’s, I can’t remember — was I laughing AT THEM in their current position? This was highly unlikely as I knew how it felt to be laughed at and be left with a sense of low self-worth. Surely, I was laughing at THEIR COMMENTS in hopes that laughter would provide the energy to transform the negative effect of their words. Even back then, I was aware that laughter created an energy that neutralized negativity. Could my unconscious intention have been to let joyful laughter lessen the negative effects of equally negative experiences of aging?
Recently, I attended a workshop about introducing humor into speaking presentations. In my professional work as a counselling therapist, writer and speaker, and my personal experiences with getting older, I wonder how it will be to take a lighter approach on this phase of life. George Burns, actor, producer, and comedian whose life spanned 100 years said: “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” Yes, the years advance in time – of that, there is not doubt. However, we are free to choose HOW we perceive and experience these years – fearful in the expectations of gloom and doom OR optimistic in creating a lightness that helps accept the realities of this time.
With all due respect to the aging process and those, like me, who are getting older, I offer an invitation to what seems to be a most unique, mysterious and energizing experience. I am learning that I have new options in this transitioning time. I can either be stuck or move on. I can create a black cloud and live under its dome or open to the light of curious exploration. Yes, my age, even though only a number, is more advanced than it was a year ago. Eventually, I will reach a number that is considered optimum to fulfill my meaning and purpose here on earth.
How do you refer to your “getting older’? With “oh, this is awful” and other brooding words that give energy to the negative OR with words of hope and humor that bring energy to the positive? As human beings, we have a tendency to pretend, deny, avoid, make excuses and keep moving on the same path, even when our body gives us messages for the need to change. My body reminds me often that I have a responsibility to care for it in ways I did not in my early years. My body also enjoys how I relate to it now in new ways, such as more walking, yoga, and deeper meditations. Yes, I accept the realities of aging, and, as with robust wine and cheese, I savor the learning that comes with age.
Hearty laughter and childlike curiosity enhance the flavor of it all!
I continue to learn from the likes of George Burns who kept us laughing as he aged when he said: “I get a standing ovation, just for standing.”
NOW – take your own ovation as you blend humor into your getting older experience AND share your story as many will benefit from it ….