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Time, comfort and curiosity - their profound affect on aging

 

Time, comfort and curiosity - their profound affect on aging


"Time seems to stand quite still
In a child's world it always will"

 

"Morning. Another morning" by The Moody Blues

The days for a child pass quickly but the years pass like a slow-moving freight train. As an adult, I want the same. Time, or at least our perception of it, can be controlled. Here is Scientific American's James M. Broadway on the subject:

“Where did the time go?” middle-aged and older adults often remark. Many of us feel that time passes more quickly as we age, a perception that can lead to regrets. According to psychologist and BBC columnist Claudia Hammond, “the sensation that time speeds up as you get older is one of the biggest mysteries of the experience of time.”

"Engaging in a novel exploit makes time appear to pass more quickly in the moment. But if we remember that activity later on, it will seem to have lasted longer than more mundane experiences."

That is where curiosity and comfort enter the picture. We need curiosity to engage in novel exploits, and we need to get out of our comfort zones to accomplish this. The curiosity factor truly separates kids from adults. These are some ideas from ExploringYourMind:
"Understand that the shadow of old age looms when you stop learning, when your curiosity fades and you live more in your memories than in your dreams. This isn’t the right way to handle it."
"Never open your eyes to a new day without a project to complete, a goal to achieve, or a gratifying activity to invest your time in.
Don’t stay at home all day."

So where do you start. With filling your day. At 79 years of age, I walk outdoors and do strength training in my basement. As a child, I was constantly outdoors exploring or in our basement in Reading, Massachusetts doing chemistry experiments and taxidermy. I even made my own gunpowder from scratch. That resulted in a few noisy experiments in the gravel pit behind our house. My parents had no issue with it and I never came close to getting injured. My days were filled, and they passed quickly. Here is Scientific American's James M. Broadway once again:

"This phenomenon, which Hammond has dubbed the holiday paradox, seems to present one of the best clues as to why, in retrospect, time seems to pass more quickly the older we get. From childhood to early adulthood, we have many fresh experiences and learn countless new skills. As adults, though, our lives become more routine, and we experience fewer unfamiliar moments. As a result, our early years tend to be relatively overrepresented in our autobiographical memory and, on reflection, seem to have lasted longer. Of course, this means we can also slow time down later in life. We can alter our perceptions by keeping our brain active, continually learning skills and ideas, and exploring new places."

As an older adult, I still spend a lot of time outdoors exploring, and as a Personal Trainer and Health Coach, I am always in my basement changing the layout of the gym or inventing new exercises for myself and my clients. But I found it wasn't enough to fill the days, which often passed slowly.

The change came about with an e-mail from a Boston Celtics blog site looking for writers. They asked for a brief life history and a writing sample. I never expected a response, but I got one. They would give me a shot. I had never been a sports writer and was far from a computer whiz. I had to learn everything in a couple of weeks, and it was tough. I was truly out of my comfort zone, and during the trying several weeks, I thought of giving up. But with a lot of help from a fellow-blogger, I got through it.

It often takes a stimulus from another person to get us moving and changing our lives for the better. My father and brother followed the now-outdated path of working hard, retiring early and then doing little. They both died at 64 years of age. I vowed I would not follow their lead. It didn't work for them, and it wouldn't have worked for me. Older folks need to take clues from others, but choose those folks wisely. Of the many things I learned as first a Research Engineer, and later as a Police Investigator and Health Coach, the most important was nothing is ever what it appears to be. Don't try to keep up with the Joneses unless you know where they are going. Someone we feel leads a perfect life may be on the verge of having that life collapse. Don't follow.

As kids, we had no computers. If you wanted a question answered, you went to the library or book store. Now we can have a question answered via computer in seconds. A computer is one of the best learning tools ever invented, and it is a great way to satisfy, and intensify, curiosity. Here are a few ideas on getting out of your comfort zone. If you stop moving, your body shuts down. I almost never stop moving, except when I am sleeping or writing. You need to take care of your body. My workouts are brief and efficient, often lasting less than 15 minutes. Also, you become what you eat. Learn more about nutrition from the right sources. There is a lot of bad info out there. Don't fall for it. Don't move to a one-story home to avoid stair climbing unless absolutely necessary. If you stop climbing stairs, you lose the ability to do so.

But most important of all, be aware of your surroundings. What is around you that can hurt you or help you? Stop being the person that tells stories from the past without any new endeavors to relate. If you are disappointed in your older adult life, change it. Hasten the days and slow the years. Get out of your comfort zone, and be curious about why things work the way they do. Become a child again, at least in some ways. Like yourself and the life you lead. My background is diverse and I have experienced much. But I learn something new every day. Stay tuned to my blog for some How-To's on surviving and enjoying your second half-century.

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