If you could sit down with a pencil and paper and list what the top five goals most people would put for their senior citizen years, what do you suppose would go on that list? Financial security would probably rank pretty high. And time with family would get good marks. But just based on the thing that seems to be most on the minds of senior citizens, the thing that would probably rank the highest would be good health, avoiding injury and continued long life.
Now if you attend a seminar in good health for seniors, usually the things that get covered are diet issues and exercise. But more and more, research into what seniors are most successful and consistently live the longest and have the lowest incidence of health problems are not the ones who statistically work the hardest to observe strict diet and exercise guidelines. In other words, the senior citizens that are the most successful at being the best senior citizens ever are the ones who obsess the least about being successful.
Much has been made of “the power of positive thinking” lately and some of it is probably a bunch of hype. But this research on the effect of attitude on how well senior citizens do mentally, emotional and physically does lend some credibility that a senior citizens outlook on life seem to have a great deal to do not only with their quality of life but how frequently you get sick and on longevity.
Part of why this is has to do with expectations. If you enter your senior years with the expectation that you will be ill more often, will experience periods of low energy and will decline quickly over your senior years, that is probably what is going to happen to you.
This is not just because the thoughts themselves have any power like the positive thinking people would have us believe. But if each day you wake up anticipating poor health and low stamina, you won’t be as active during the day. You won’t want to socialize with others and you won’t have goals and ambitions. And these are the kinds of things that keep people of any age going. By “giving up” to the onset of old age, we send a signal to our minds and to our bodies that there will be no effort to stay fit and healthy. And because there is no effort in those directions, poor health and low energy results.
Some call this the “self fulfilling prophecy” syndrome. Senior citizens that think they will do well, have an active lifestyle and continue to enjoy good health are the ones that do just as well as they think they will. But their counterparts seem to be able to “think themselves ill”.
There is a lot of cause and effect looking at your life with confidence and ambition can have. And it has been frequently shown that senior citizens who are active, who get out and take on projects, spend time with others and refuse to let old age get them down are the ones that stay happy and healthy longer and have better quality of life throughout their retirement years.
Another paradox of the importance of attitude on the quality of life of a senior citizen has to do with thinking of others more than yourself. Senior citizens who do volunteer work are active in helping others and who are always finding ways to bless the lives of family and friends also seem to be happier and more successful members of the senior community. To state this simply, those who worry about others the most, benefit the most personally. But those who worry about themselves the most have the most to worry about.
The best way to turn around the effects of bad attitude and get a change of outlook is seek better companionship. The old saying “misery loves company” is quite accurate. So to get a better mental attitude, be with people who have good attitudes. A positive and creative outlook on life is contagious. And it’s worth the effort to change how you view your retirement life because to think negatively is only going to lead to problems. But if your attitude says you will get the best from life, you will experience that and become the best senior citizen ever.