We all grow older. It's the one thing that every human shares in common. And yet, so many of us fight this inevitability—we worry about how we'll look, how we'll feel, what we'll do with our time, when we'll die. We perceive only our youth as a time of excitement, ambition, and hope. Growing older is often seen as just an inevitably slow decline.
But it doesn't have to be that way! After all, as you grow older, you have the added benefit of experience, wisdom, and perspective. When done with intention and grace, growing older can be a wonderful and enriching experience.
Here are just six ways you can begin to grow older gracefully starting today:
1. Figure out what you like to do.
Growing up often feels like it's accompanied by a barrage of other people's—your parents, your teachers, the media, your peers—opinions of who you should be and what you should do. But growing older allows you the opportunity to reassess and figure these things out for yourself. Sure, your parents or your peers might have been onto something, but make the time to sit with yourself and consider: What do I like to do for fun? What's the mark I want to make on the world? How do I want people to remember me when I die? These are big questions with important answers—answers that only you can give. Get clear on those answers as you grow older.
2. Learn how to fail well.
Failing, much like growing older, is inevitable. And contrary to popular belief, it is a good thing! In fact, failing well is the sign of a well-lived life. It means that you dreamed big and you tried hard. So what does it mean to fail well? It means to understand the positive power of failure. It means to pursue big and important dreams, even if you might fail. And failing well means picking yourself back up again, learning the powerful lessons, and trying again. Failure is an incredible catalyst for growth—and those of us who grow older trying and failing and trying and failing and trying again will see the greatest amount of positive growth by the time we've grown to a happy, old age.
3. Practice forgiveness.
Perhaps the greatest spiritual teacher for all of us, young and old, is forgiveness. It's a powerful practice that—as with anything—becomes easier the more you do it. And it's a practice that we all need to revisit time and again throughout our lives. Sometimes we'll need to forgive someone else, and very often we'll need to forgive ourselves, so it's crucial to learn how to do it well and do it often if we want to live happy, conscious, fulfilled lives. The most important thing to remember about forgiveness? It's not about condoning bad behavior; it's about freeing yourself from reliving that bad behavior over and over and over again when you hold onto it. We are all basically good—and we all deserve that freedom.
4. Be curious.
Learning is not just for the young. And being curious is not just for kids. It's a lifelong pursuit, and an open, curious mind is crucial for growing older gracefully. Make it a practice to be perpetually curious, to keep your mind open and explore what's possible beyond what you could have ever imagined. Be willing to learn more about other cultures, spiritual practices, and different political and social views. No one is saying you have to change your mind—just be curious about what you may not know, and constantly be on the lookout for new ways of thinking, living, and being in the world. It's that childlike curiosity that got you this far; don't give it up just because you're growing older.
5. Take care of your body.
As you grow older, it becomes more and more important to take care of your body—to fill it only with those things that will nourish and support its growth. Of course, this is an important practice no matter your age, but growing older gracefully—in other words, feeling strong, smart, and well-supported as you age—requires that you intentionally take care of yourself. Remember that you are a unique individual, and so is your body; take the time to find out what your body needs to thrive. What are the foods that nourish you and give you energy? What exercises do you find fun and challenging? What spiritual practices give you clarity of mind and purpose? Protect your forever home on this Earth and you'll find that growing older is a piece of cake.
6. Try new things.
Getting older doesn't mean remaining stuck in your routines! Continue to explore what excites you, what scares you, what interests you. Consider activities that you might not have been brave enough to do when you were younger. Always wanted to jump out of an airplane? Do it! Intrigued by the idea of a silent meditation retreat? Sign up! There are no hard and fast rules that say you can only adventure in your youth. Your entire life is meant to be an adventure, so treat it as such—and treat yourself to exploring all of the new and exciting things you want to try for the rest of your life!