Retirement and being a senior citizen is all about relaxing and enjoying life more. It’s time to quit sweating the small stuff and really sink into the goodness all around us. We’re done meeting deadlines, we’re done raising families (hopefully), and we’re done worrying about things we cannot control.

         Along those lines, I’ve identified ten things that bear remembering as we finally are able to let go and live a little. This list isn’t stagnant, it isn’t compiled of items to be checked off and never viewed again. It represents a process, a process of growing, expanding and  of looking to improve the quality of our lives, both mine and yours.

1.         Stop worrying about getting older.

           Time marches on and we can either go with the flow or fight it like a salmon struggling to get upstream. I can tell I’m fighting it when I see myself trying on age inappropriate clothes or makeup that I pour on to mask wrinkles or laugh lines. I’ve found people in general don’t want us to look or dress a certain way as we get older. They want us to be kind and gentle with them, to share our experiences and to listen. And we can do that. We’ve got the experience and the time.

2.         Stop comparing yourself to others.

          My mother used to remind me that there were others out there in the big world who would be better, smarter, prettier than me and, at the same, there’d be people with much less than me. And dang it if she hasn’t been right all these years! We are all unique and we each bring unique qualities to this life experience. This uniqueness allows us to meld ourselves with others, not to compete with them. Comparing ourselves to others is a huge waste of time.

3.         Stop thinking you have plenty of time to do what you’ve wanted to do.

           Buddha says, “The trouble is, you think you have time.” We may have gobs of years or not. Who knows? It’s best to not think, “Oh, I can start writing that book later,” or “I have plenty of time to compile our family ancestry information.” Stop wasting time and begin treating each day as an excellent opportunity to do something to get closer to a goal of yours. You do have goals, don’t you????

4.         Stop isolating yourself.

           Many seniors live alone. We are widowed or divorced and the kids are grown and gone. Sure, we have friends, and many of them are alone as well. It’s incredibly easy to let two, three days go by without reaching out to relatives and/or people who care about us. It’s easy to rely on social networking such as Facebook as our primary contact with people. There is, however, no replacement for a hug or the up-close gaze into the eyes of someone who will laugh with you, someone who will hold your hand and listen to the inane details of your day. This is important. We’ve all heard about studies with babies who were isolated in infancy. This is true for seniors (and anyone, for that matter), too! Call someone, arrange to get together, even if it’s super casual – without makeup, hair being done or any expensive fanfare.

5.         Stop ignoring the power of gratitude.

            Like attracts like, and I’m a firm believer that being grateful opens the Universe and makes room for good things to come. I’ve gotten some greatness in life and it’s never come as a result of being skeptical or entitled. It’s when I open myself to all that is available to me that it comes forth…abundantly. And I am grateful.

6.         Stop sitting on your butt.

            Move the body, a little or a lot. When I sit at my computer, sit in front of the tv, sit to knit or read, sit in conversation with others, I feel things sifting down, settling into my tush and legs. We all know that, as we age, it’s important to keep things moving. The phrase, “Use it or lose it,” has true meaning for seniors. Sometimes all I can do is chair exercises. My goal is to do more than just talk about moving my body.

7.         Stop needing to be right.

            In my 40’s I remember hearing about the need to be right versus the need to be liked. I always needed to be right; it was part of my job, or so I thought. The being liked part could come later. Now remember a time when someone was in your face barking out an explanation that showed their “correct” thought processes and/or actions. Did it feel like a human connection or that you were just a sounding board for their knowing the right answer? In addition, I find that many people never ask for that information or for my ‘correct’ input to begin with.

8.         Stop trying to control everything.

            Is it just me, or does it seem like we each want to have the world operate on our own axis? I’m just sure I know the best way to do things, and I am always expounding those thoughts. At the same time I see that the only real control is over ourselves and that anything other than that is a waste of time and energy. Letting go of a specific outcome is a good place to start in letting go of control. Be willing to be vulnerable. There are usually more ways to accomplish something, why not let another person share their way with you?

9.         Stop trying to change others.

            What person doesn’t want to be accepted and validated for themselves, just the way they are? Trying to change others is a lesson in futility. And it gives them the message, “Hey, you’re not okay the way you are.” Work on changing yourself and let others be the unique and wonderful people they are.

10.       Stop allowing negative thoughts to invade this glorious time of your life.

            Negative thoughts are time stealers. They rob you of being open to gratitude and to all the wonderfully uplifting things in the Universe. Spending time in negativity brings more negativity into your life. Joy and feelings of abundance never come out of negativism. Also, it seems positive change doesn’t come out of criticism (self-loathing or from others) or negative emotions.

          This is my list of things to remember about growing old gracefully. I bet you have your own list or at least could expand on this list significantly, and I’d love to hear about that. Whatever the list, now is our chance to have fun and make the most of what we have and where we are in life.

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