ADVICE OF DELANY SISTERS ON MAINTAINING INDEPENDENCE IN OLD AGE

(Miss Sadie Delany, aged 106, and her sister, Dr. Bessie Delany, deceased at 104, had definite rules for living a long and healthy life. Both exercised every single day, whether they felt like it or not. Both always downed chopped garlic and cod liver oil at breakfast and ate at least seven vegetables at lunchtime. The sisters also made a habit of living as stress-free a life as possible. They steadfastly refused to install a telephone, preferring more personal methods of communication. Other strategies for the sisters’ serenity were published in the Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom in 1994).

Bessie and Sadie, the Delany sisters are famous for remaining physically and mentally active into their second century. After they became 101 and 103 years of age respectively, the book on their experiences was a best-seller book, the television shows were very popular. I am quoting some of their pieces of advice, comments and wisdom:

“No matter how old you get, you think of yourself as young. In our dreams, we are always young.”

Sadie Delany

“Most folks think getting older means giving up, not trying anything new. Well, we don’t agree with that. As long as you can see each day as a chance for something new to happen, something you never experienced before, you will stay young—–even after a century of living, we haven’t tried everything. We‘ve only just started.”

Sadie Delany

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CONTROL THE ENEMIES OF POSITIVE AGEING

Positive psychologist Seligman has discussed many features of positive psychology. Positive aging should be understood in the light of the important premise of positive psychology, the premise is – human beings possess strengths and resources that can be used as buffers against challenges or realities of life. The specific strengths according to Seligman are: “courage, future mindedness, optimism, interpersonal skill, faith, work ethic, hope, honesty, perseverance and capacity for flow and insight—“.

These individual traits of personality, values, attitudes and beliefs are the sources of coping with the aging process. The resources are psychological or intrinsic and external resources are medical care, housing, occupation, social security, etc. With a positive attitude, the elderly can modify their own aging experience. To cultivate a positive attitude aged person should first control over the enemies. The enemies are Rigidity, negativity, worry, self-absorption, regret.

HAPPINESS IS A STATE OF MIND

A beautiful message explaining how Happiness is a State of Mind.

HAPPINESSAll of us should try to develop such an attitude. A man of 92 years, short, very well-presented, who takes great care in his appearance, is moving into an old people’s home today. After waiting several hours in the retirement home lobby, he gently smiles as he is told that his room is ready. His wife of 80 has recently died, and he is obliged to leave his home. As he slowly walks to the elevator, using his cane, I describe his small room to him, including the sheet hung at the window which serves as a curtain.

“I like it very much”, he says, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old boy who has just been given a new puppy.

“You haven’t even seen the room yet, hang on a moment, we are almost there.”

“That has nothing to do with it”, he replies.

“It is already decided in my mind that I like my room. It is a decision I make every morning when I wake up.”

“Happiness is something I choose in advance. Whether or not I like the room does not depend on the furniture, or the décor rather it depends on how I decide to see it.”
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ATTACHMENT WITH DETACHMENT

I have the pleasure of forwarding a very touching emotional article by Mrs. Chithra Vishwanathan a well-known Cooking expert, as to how you can transform your life by transforming your thinking:

 

“When my daughter, elder one of my two children, got married and left the house, I felt as if I could not let her leave me. Having a daughter and a son, I know what both mean, but differently.

 

Once my daughter reached her teens I had started feeling as if my daughter was a ‘physical extension” of me. So when she was leaving home to set up her own nest, it was as though, I was losing a limb.

 

The next time she came for a short stay with us, I was astonished at how her priorities had changed. (of course, we must have given the same shocks to our parents). When she said Amma, she meant her mother-in-law, not me!

 

I imagined that she was always in a hurry to go back to her house and not stay with me for a few more days which I wanted so badly. That was the first time; it dawned on me that I have to start practicing detachment in attachment.

 

Two years after my daughter’s marriage, my son left for higher studies in the US. Having experienced a child’s separation once, this time I was better equipped emotionally.

 

I plunged headlong into various classes held in the city starting from Vedanta to healing to Ikebana – I just wanted to be away from home. My husband, who was a workaholic, also could not understand my predicament.

 

My son used to write how he was missing my home-cooked food, how he was waiting to come back to live in Chennai with us etc. After a few years, he did come back and we got him married.

 

He started living separately with his wife & we were also happy that they wanted to be independent. But now, it was all changed!

 

When in the US, he missed my cooking. Now if I called him to come over with his wife for a meal, it was always some excuse like “oh, amma, we have other plans for the day, please don’t mistake us if we don’t drop in today “!

 

I could see that his priorities had also changed completely.

 

We talk in theory so many things and advise others etc. but when it comes to our children, acceptance comes very late and the next step is just leaving them undisturbed in every way, mainly without advice from our end.

 

It was at that time, I made the following lines as my “new profile”:

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SELF-CENTEREDNESS: BARRIER TO POSITIVE AGEING

Self-centeredness or self-absorption in old age is a complex phenomenon. It is a maladaptive quality related to coping and subjective well-being in the last phase of life. The person having a self-absorption style of life fails to develop other focused qualities, (which are the signs of wisdom) in old age. Such persons have a difficult time experiencing positive ageing.

Self-centeredness has many forms. A self-absorbed person focuses on him or herself and gives priority to the meeting of personal needs, desires, appetites and preferences. They do not give importance to the needs of others (even to their family members or caregivers). Self-focus may be of two forms-(a) I am special and (b) something is wrong with me. These two forms interact with the ageing process. The elderly thinks-“I am special because I am old” and should be cared for first. When he says that “something is wrong with me”, he is of the view that due to my vulnerability to disease and disability I should be given priority.
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