Tenderness in Aging
I’m reading a wonderful little book entitled “Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All”, by Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D. He begins the introduction by stating that he wrote the book “…because I truly feel that we teach what we want to learn, and forgiveness is the most important lesson I have to learn.”
Wow! That sentence made me realize something I hadn’t really thought about, or put into words. That we teach what we want to learn. As long as I can remember, I’ve been trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent (did I get that right?…yes, I was a Boy Scout). But the gratitude part didn’t always come easy.
I was, like most people I think, mindful of the obligatory “thank yous” for a kindness or gift given me. And they were sincere thanks. Yet, I was occasionally judgmental of other people, events, myself (this is all something I’m still working on).
I’m learning that to be truly grateful for all that happens in our lives, we have to forgive. Like gratitude, forgiveness is easier said than done. It’s a daily process, one that we practice for a lifetime. There will always be challenges, hurdles to overcome, problems to solve. This is how we learn, grow, appreciate.
But how did I happen upon gratitude to learn about? I believe God, and my mom’s spirit, put me on this path. Let me explain.
What I’m truly passionate about is long life. My mother passed on at the age of 47 from heart disease. When I turned 40, I started to think about my own mortality, and if disease was hereditary. As the 20th anniversary of her death approached (this was in 1995; I was 41), I began to learn about disease and illness – its causes and avoidance. I was fascinated to learn that we all have the capacity to live 100 years and beyond…and in good health!
Of course, there are things we must do, and not do, to celebrate a healthy 100th birthday. This includes getting rid of stress. Stress is a biggie! And to live stress free requires total forgiveness, and gratitude.
Let’s come back now to Jerry Jampolsky’s statement that we teach what we want to learn. That is why I’m sharing my thoughts about gratitude, and now forgiveness; to teach myself of their importance. (Of course I hope, too, that you may learn a little from what I share.)
How can we become grateful for harm caused us by people or events without first forgiving? We can’t. This is why forgiveness and gratitude go hand-in-hand. We must learn to forgive. It may not be easy. But if it’s joy and happiness you want in your life, you must work on it.
This doesn’t mean we become a dupe, someone to take advantage of. I’m reminded of a time many years ago when our youngest daughter had been slighted by someone behind her back, someone she thought of as a friend. I told her it was important to forgive, but that she didn’t have to forget. I guess the lesson was that we all make mistakes…we’re human, after all. Her “friend” just maybe couldn’t be trusted.
We can learn to be grateful for the lesson. Then let it go. “Let it go.” Powerful, powerful words. “This too shall pass.” Another phrase worth remembering. It is this way with forgiveness. So important a principle, it is well worth the effort to embrace…to make it a daily practice.
Let me close by recounting a story told in Jerry Jampolsky’s book. He and his wife befriended a woman named Andrea de Nottbeck. Although seemingly well-to-do, she became an ornery woman following the death of her husband. “She was difficult to get along with, frequently provocative, and extremely argumentative.” When she was 85, a friend gave her a copy of Dr. Jampolsky’s “Love is Letting Go of Fear”.
Andrea began reading it daily, and it changed her life. She forgave! Herself and others. She became so joyful, she changed her name to Happy. After Jerry and his wife, Diane, visited Happy at her home in Geneva, Switzerland, he wrote how “She was one of the happiest, most peaceful, and most loving people I have ever met.”
While visiting her, they asked what it was that had so dramatically changed her life. “Oh, I just gave up all my judgments.” she replied. She forgave. Makes one think, doesn’t it?
I urge you to read “Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All”. It’s a beautiful book, full of many stories like Happy’s. And I leave you with this quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer – “There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way!”
To your happiness! Enjoy!
Have a thought you’d like to share? Please click the comments link below. I’d love to hear from you…and thank you for visiting!
Always looking up!
I enjoyed another birthday a week ago. One thing I’ve learned as I age is to be grateful for everything, and birthdays are no exception. Every birthday should be celebrated! Yet, too often, people aren’t always happy about another passing year.
Enduring pain or unpleasantness isn’t joyful. I won’t belittle its challenge. But remembering that all challenges in life are a chance to learn and grow, helps to ease the pain. It seems birthdays give us time to reflect, though we often don’t like what we see.
If it’s a physical pain that makes your days harder than they should ever be, you should find the cause. Medical doctors can help with the symptoms, but the causes often go unchecked. (Long Life League has experts that may help. Contact us.)
Emotional pains are issues that may be harder to deal with. Therapy may be in order. Sometimes good nutrition and eating habits can help one think clearer. And getting ample sleep daily is very important. (I know, sleep can be harder when you’re kept awake by all the “noise” going on in your mind.)
Having gratitude for little things in life tends to invite more things to be grateful for into our lives. It’s funny how that works…but it does work. I started out slowly a few years back being thankful for little things. Today I’m happier! Because I’ve learned to be grateful for all things in life, “good” or “bad”.
All of life is a miracle! If it currently doesn’t seem that way to you, please keep faith that you can learn how it is. Life is for learning, and it just might be the next book or blog post you read that will help you see just a little clearer.
I don’t have all the answers. I’ve been unhappy and unhealthy in my life. But every passing year gives me time to reflect on how I’ve grown, how I’ve learned some things that I didn’t know a year ago. It’s a wonderful thing really, to grow the brain, keep it “plastic”, more youthful.
You, too, can get excited about life. Long life! I just turned 58, and God willing, I’ve still got over half my life ahead of me. So much to do! So much to learn! (And you can bet I’ll be relaxing a good portion of all that doing!) Won’t you join me?
Care to comment? Please do. Click on “Leave a comment” below. We’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, enjoy long life!
Gratitude in a sunset.
Thank you God! …or Source Energy…or Infinite Intelligence…or Spirit…call it what you like, for when you’re thankful, you are giving thanks to the energy that creates Life. And attracts abundance.
Want to feel better about your life? Start by being thankful. Want more energy, enthusiasm, optimism? Be grateful. Want more joy in your life? Clearer thinking? Less stress? Then thank your higher power. It really is that simple.
There’s a science of gratitude, of saying “thank you”, and the positive influence that it has on our lives. Though gratitude has benefited mankind through all the ages, recent research has proven that being grateful gives people-
- stronger immune systems
- fewer illnesses
- longer lives
- a more positive outlook
- more appreciation
- more compassion
The proof is overwhelming. Distinguished doctors and scientists from around the world have studied the benefits of gratitude. Try this simple test. Take a moment and think about something you’re grateful for. Are you smiling? Thought so. Think of someone you love. Smiling again? Good. Love and gratitude are two sides of the same coin. They go hand-in-hand. When we love, we’re being grateful.
It’s so easy to be ungrateful. Anyone can do it. But ingratitude is a weak, negative energy, so don’t go there. Becoming grateful for anything and everything takes practice. And practice makes progress. It’s something we need to work on daily.
I cut my arm while working the other day, and except for the conditioned “ouch”, I silently thanked God for the reminder to be more careful, that it wasn’t any worse, and that the miracle that is my body, instantly began to heal itself. Thank you God!
Get in the habit and make it simple. Start a gratitude journal and add at least three things every day that you’re grateful for. Before too long, being aware of the multitude of goodness in your life will become second nature. It’ll become a fantastic, healthy, habit!
And when life throws you a challenge, you’ll be able to look for the silver lining. I love Dr. Wayne Dyer’s quote- “There is no stress in the world, only people thinking stressful thoughts.” With practice you’ll become less stressed; maybe even stress free!
I’m thankful for the bed I sleep in and the roof over my head. The shoes on my feet (that walk without me even thinking about them!). My hands that are able to type these words. The weather, regardless of what it is on any given day. My family and friends. These are the tangible kinds of things that we all can be daily grateful for.
Then there are the intangible gifts. Our lives – past, present, and future. Our problems and challenges (that allow us to learn lessons). The unkind, unfriendly people in our lives (that teach us forgiveness and acceptance). That we can think and feel as we choose. Our conscious and subconscious minds. The very fantastic fact of being alive! These gifts may take more practice to be grateful for. But remember, practice makes progress.
I’m learning every day to take everything less for granted. And appreciating all in my life. And I thank you, my friend, for reading this message. Enjoy!