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Saying Goodbye and Hello!

Margery Pabst Steinmetz - January 03, 2018 03:53 PM

As I contemplate the new year, 2018, my attention will not be on the traditional new year’s resolutions.  Instead, I am coming to terms with the losses, often painful, of the last year with an intentional focus toward future opportunities.  I’m hoping that changing my attitude toward my gains, not my losses, will keep my zest for living intact!

As all of us age, loss is always there.  Leaving home when we are young to downsizing when we are old involves loss; dwelling on those losses during any life transition can leave us depressed, disengaged and unproductive.  Focus on what may be gained in the future keeps us curious and engaged.  I have a dear friend who had to leave the independence of her home to enter a residential home where she has her own space but also help and support from others.  Her response?  “This place is like a resort.  They wait on me hand and foot.”  Rather than obsessing about what she lost, she looks at her new surroundings as ways to meet new friends and have new experiences.  Years ago, when she had to give up the car keys, her response was not driving anymore provided more time for her philanthropy interests.

I used to run five miles everyday and once completed the London marathon.  I can’t do that anymore!  My knees talk back to me if I attempt running so I walk.  Actually I see more of the landscape by walking.  I even stop to take in the beauty around me.  So I’ve lost but I have also gained perspective on the world and patience about my capabilities.

Friends and books all tell me that as we age, we have the distinct possibility of becoming happier. Of course, not all of us can achieve a happier place, perhaps because of illness.  But I do believe that, for many of us, what we decide to think about—gains versus losses— can make a difference to overall well-being.

So what will your new year be like?  Acknowledging that life is full of change and loss, but intentionally looking forward to what we have gained in the last year may be one of the keys to long term happiness and well being.

Margery Pabst Steinmetz is the author of “Enrich Your Caregiving Journey,” “Words of Care” and the host of “Caregivers Speak,” a radio show providing tips and resources for caregivers.  Listen on Tuesdays, 2 PM ET by clicking on both or  Margery is also eCareDiary’s caregiving expert.

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