They’ve told us and we get it: we need to keep our bodies strong as we age. The benefits are many and they are obvious! But creating the strength we need to navigate the many changes on the journey ahead is just as important. I call this type of strengthening activity “building the change resilience muscle.” You can’t “see it” in the same way because it’s a mindset, one that supports us in creating a life we want to live in the chapter we are now writing.
We all know people who have this muscle, this mindset. They seem to roll with the punches and go with the flow regardless of what happens. These folks aren’t swallowing happy pills or practicing denial. They are adaptive and resilient because they have a way of thinking and being that allows them to move forward without beating themselves up or getting into a prolonged funk. Case in point: I know a woman in her early 70’s who lost her husband when they were both in their early 50’s, still raising teenagers. She shared with me that with his passing, she recognized the critical choice before her: she could either collapse into her grief and give up on life, or she could find her way forward – one small step at a time. Adaptable and resilient, she chose the latter.
I am inspired by her example and work hard at being that kind of person – one with a strong change resilience muscle. Here’s what I know: every one of us can build this capability. It takes self-awareness and guess what? The willingness to make some inside changes. Here goes:
Finally, at last, accept that everything changes
How much energy have you spent fighting change instead of finding ways to flow with it? You have only to look out your kitchen window to realize that the natural world is in flux, all of the time. Why not flow with it? Start by reminding yourself of the many large and small changes that you’ve not only adapted to but have come to appreciate.
Be diligent about differentiating what you can and cannot change
Be smart about where you expend your energy. Grab a notepad or pull up a WORD document and start listing the significant things in your life that you can’t change. Maybe it’s certain people in your life, a chronic health condition, and so on. Stare it down, acknowledge your feelings when they come up, then move on to list the many things you CAN change – things like your diet, your exercise, your spiritual practices, the media you consume, the time you spend on activities you enjoy, and so on.
Make peace with yourself
As the brilliant Brene Brown wisely states: “You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and wrestle with your worthiness.” Befriend yourself, own your feelings, and trust that your authentic self is more than good enough – because it is.
Take no good thing for granted
Start or wrap up your day by identifying as many “good things” as you can. My summer list often included the hummingbirds that discovered the new feeder, the robust Celebrity tomatoes that flourished, the evening front porch chats with neighbors, and wading in the community pool. So many good things!
Learn from every victory, misstep, and defeat
There is no perfect life, period. Every life, despite how it may appear from the outside, has its share of victories, missteps and defeats. The beautiful gift of aging is that we can see that now, and we can choose to take the lessons inherent in every experience.
Look for the good in everyone and in every situation
Tell me I’m getting preachy. Well, I’m okay with that. I have come to know that something shifts within me when I spend my days on this earth looking for the good and shushing judgment and negativity when they show up in me. Thanks, mom, for such a beautiful lesson that supports my change resilience muscle!