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Invitations to Vitality
Aging Well List
Adapted by David Fireman
The purpose of this list is to spur your own reflections. Notice if there is something here that flirts with your attention. The following items are suggestions. You might find that some of them require a good deal of thought and effort, while others may be rather simple and straightforward. The list is broken down into the different dimensions of being human: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. As with all suggestions, take what fits and work with it. Shelve or discard the rest.
« Develop a daily exercise strategy that is fun and fits your specific strengths and limits.
« Plan excursions with physical exercise built in. Gentle stretching is good for the body. Gentle cardiovascular exercise is good for the body.
« Get regular check ups and be knowledgeable about cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.
« Become aware of your addictions: caffeine, alcohol, tranquilizers, other drugs, sex, busy-ness, TV, certain relationships, etc.
« Move toward moderation.
« If you can, walk more. Climb more stairs. Hold onto the railing. Focus and balance yourself.
« Find a massage therapist who will increase your wellness through safe therapeutic touch.
« Know the current nutrition principles, dare to break old, non-healthy cooking and eating habits (small changes are useful).
« Enjoy fruits, vegetables, grains. Reduce red meat and refined sugar consumption.
« Develop new food pleasures by noticing color, texture, smell, and more.
« Enjoy lots of water.
« Be aware that your body never lies. Learn its language and listen to its signals carefully.
« Learn to relish your breathing. Take pleasure in breathing fresh clean air deeply.
« Sort out and pass along the things you no longer use from your closets, attic, basement, etc. Doing so is a symbol of making room for newness. It is also generous.
« Be curious.
« Educate yourself on your phase of life and your tasks in this phase of life.
« Become realistic about your resources and constraints.
« Attend workshops in your areas of interest.
« Take classes at your local library, museums, YWCA, YMCA, community college, university, church, synagogue.
« Read or be read to.
« Join or start a discussion group. Join or start a book club.
« Learn when to say yes. Learn when to say no.
« Seek out people who challenge your beliefs, your thinking.
« Observe your own mind. Notice your own thoughts and patterns of thoughts.
« Intend to be honest in your communications with others.
« Be honest in your communications with others.
« Stick up for yourself respectfully.
« Reflect on what falsities you are living.
« Make a list of what you really want to do. What you must do.
Allow yourself to have your feelings, all of them. Feelings are neither good nor bad. They are natural and spontaneous. Actions are different from feelings. In general, think before you act.
Be a little less judgmental and little more empathic toward yourself and others.
Find ways of admitting, exploring, expressing, and letting go of your feelings.
Dare to ask your family and friends how they see you. This requires some courage, but they can be a mirror for you (if you’re interested in looking).
Explore your generational family system and get a sense of patterns, trends, resources, etc.
Go to a support group.
Take an inventory of your relationships and be aware of your interactional patterns with others.
Take considered steps toward reconciliation with others.
Forgive yourself your mistakes.
Forgive others their mistakes.
Open yourself to making new friends. Dare to risk.
Learn to embrace the little child you once were, but who still lives inside you.
Get counseling. Get over the stigma.
Recognize, embrace, and surround yourself with what you experience as beauty.
Notice what is really happening in your environment.
Become aware of what is really happening to the earth.
Study what the government is doing and not doing.
Search for opportunities to serve. Be discerning about what you agree to do.
Check over the lives of the young people in your family system.
Take stands for peace, justice, and non-violence. Consider where you have leverage and use it to make a difference.
Check into institutions of service in your community and volunteer time and money where it seems vital for you.
Practice conserving. Live more simply. Recycle. Take your own bags to the grocery store (like the Europeans do).
Use only recycled paper products.
Share your ecological concerns and ideas with others.
Seek out people from diverse cultures and learn from them.
Follow your vitality. Only do that which is energy efficient. Depletion and tiredness are two different things. There is a healthy tiredness after effort.
Religious and spiritual can be different. A person can be both religious and spiritual or religious but not spiritual or spiritual but not religious.
Take the spiritual side of life seriously.
Carve out space and time for prayer and meditation.
Study the saints and sages of your religious tradition.
Study those of other great traditions.
Read from the great spiritual works available.
Practice mercy and forgiveness, it will change everything.
Be less concerned about the “right” belief system and cultivate an awareness of your own experience of the divine.
Seek the companionship of others on the spiritual path.
Let nature teach and nourish you.
Keep a personal journal.
Pay attention to your dreams and share them with someone.
Remember your rightful place in the universe.
Inventory your life and see who might be a spiritual friend or guide for you as you explore your spiritual self. Use your reasoned judgment to detect fakes and phonys.
Allow yourself to experience discipline in your spiritual practice along with joyful effort.
David Fireman, LCSW