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Forget Your Troubles ~ C'mon, Get Older!
by Beth Boswell Jacks

“Grow old with me!
The best is yet to be.”
~ Robert Browning

Yessiree, I’m a happy, “cup-half-full” person, an optimist, a joker and a certified elder member of society. Somebody once wrote that “inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.” That’s exactly how I feel – forever 19 with just a bunch of years tacked on for childbearing, PTA and good measure.

I completely agree with wise Oliver Wendell Holmes who once said that “old age is always 15 years older than I am.” I hope when I’m tottering around at 105 I’ll be taking muffins to the really old 120-year-olds. Bran muffins, of course.

I can’t deny my “getting-on-up-there” 64 years, and I also can’t deny I consider these to be the best years of my life, so it was with no great surprise that I spotted this headline from the Associated Press last week: “Happiest Americans are elderly, study finds.”

Sociologists at the University of Chicago have been studying around 28,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 88 since 1972, and the happy crown goes to old folks. The research team found that “a measure of distress in old age is inevitable, including aches and pains and the deaths of loved ones and friends. But older people generally have learned to be more content with what they have than younger adults.”

I could have told those guys this and saved them over 30 years of tedious interviewing.

We venerable antiques know a thing or two.

      We know happiness doesn’t depend on possessions. It helps to have money to pay the bills, but the most valuable possessions will always be family, faith and good health. If you’ve got those, you’re wealthy.

      We understand that if you want the world to smile at you, you have to put a smile on your own face. Remember that old song that preached to us: “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. / When you’re laughing, when you’re laughing, the sun comes shining through. / But when you’re crying . . . you bring on the rain . . .” A simple smile can accomplish extraordinary things.

      We know the world is not likely to beat a path to our door. If you want friends, you must reach out and become a friend. If you’re too busy or too self-absorbed to worry with the inconveniences of being friendly, expect to be lonely.

      We’ve realized wrinkles aren’t deadly. In fact, if we take off our glasses, wrinkles don’t even exist. Same goes for brown spots and cellulite. (Sometimes.)

      We know an important component of happiness is learning to “bloom where you’re planted.” The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but no pasture is perfect. Most places have pretty much the same green grass – plus a few weeds to keep things interesting.

      We know that a positive attitude is a real gift. What you look for is what you’re going to find. Expect the worst and you’ll get it with no bows attached. And you don’t have to be a Little Mary Sunshine – you only have to be open to the good that’s all around you.

      And finally, as the bumper sticker says, “You grow old when a narrow waist and a broad mind change places.” We elders know that and can tell you that, even though we don’t always practice what we preach.

We also know enough to realize our advice will fall on deaf ears. We’re practically fossils, you know. We’re supposed to be smug and yak incessantly about all the wisdom we’ve gained, thanks to our advanced years.

But you know what? That’s exactly as it should be. Perhaps youthful bumping into walls is what eventually results in old age happiness. Most seniors have ricocheted off enough walls to land, finally, in cozy spots of contentment.

Young folks, you will too. The best is yet to be.


For more SNIPPETS stories, read these:
Dancing the Weight Away
A Towel Piece ~ A Tribute
Spring Cleaning ~ Here We Go 'Round In Circles
Conquering the Wild Blue Yonder
Trail rides, cantles and beans...Hellooo, Mama!
Ben Skelton: Peace Corps Volunteer
Smiles, Not Fists...
Dance ~ the Soul's Hidden Language
Class Reunion Advice
Searching for the Inner Animal
It Was a Dark and Stormy... you know
Granny Does the Shoshone
How To Eat Crawfish...

For stories at USADS by columnist Beth Boswell Jacks, click here: SNIPPETS
And find even more here: MORE SNIPPETS

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