I have been told that at my age of 75 I am at the highest risk when it comes to the coronavirus. Yet, as people share their concerns with me about my health, my response is always “thank you for sharing” before moving on to another thought or task. I am not dismissing the danger of the virus. I am simply choosing to remain in a positive mental state, void of fear. Retreating emotionally is not an option.
I refuse to let the virus hold me back from living. I may be 75 years old, but I still live my life to the fullest daily. In every moment I have, I am always doing something to sharpen my mind or to enjoy nature. It is why I am currently living my life by traveling solo across the country with my caravan while writing my book. In this age of coronavirus, call it an unintentional self-quarantine.
We all need to enter and stay in a positive mindset daily, whether quarantined or otherwise. Here are five methods I have found successfully accomplish this:
Learn to be with yourself and love it
My father died when I was 25. His complaints of chest pains were dismissed by hospital doctors as indigestion. One night he complained of pain and they decided to keep him overnight for observation. That was the night he died. When I went to the hospital to retrieve his things, they handed me a brown paper bag. That was all. That was my father. As I left the hospital I wondered. Did he have dreams? Was he happy with himself and his life? I didn’t think so and I was angry. I thought to myself, “It was just a waste of a life,” and I vowed that when I got older it wasn’t going to happen to me.
Since then I have embraced who I am by being open to exploring my interests and embracing the challenges and opportunities life has thrown my way. At 60 I earned a Master’s Degree, and while becoming certified to teach tai-chi. At 63 I joined the Peace Corp and spent two years in Ukraine teaching at a university. In my early 70s I spent three years living in Mexico. Today my home is a lightweight trailer that I tow around the country with my Outback . . . and I have never been happier with myself or my life.
Find what you love and embrace it—whatever it may be. You will never be truly fulfilled until you find it and accept it. Your world will change the moment you do.
Become a minimalist so that you can up and go at anytime
It is no secret that we live in a materialistic society. It is all about accumulating “things”. Houses, cars, jewelry, you name it. You cannot respond to your dreams weighed down by “things”. Imagine backpacking across Europe for 12 months while worrying about the mortgages on your two houses or your assorted rental properties? It doesn’t work. Keep your assets to a minimum. Start slowly by evaluating what you have and then decide how you can begin the process of letting go. The more material goods you own, the more you become like a tree—rooted to your environment.
Keep your mind sharp
Your mind is a muscle. Exercise it. In my travels around the country I have spoken with many people of all ages—even those who have surpassed 100. One thing became clear. The ones who were happiest were those who had a purpose. Challenge yourself by finding something important that needs your attention. Volunteer, go back to school, become curious about what is possible. Do not let your brain atrophy.
Don’t let your age be an excuse
No, age is not just a number. But it need not be a weakness, either. The experience and knowledge accumulated by older Americans is one of the least utilized resources available in our society. Too many people over 60 believe retirement means riding off into the sunset. No. You have too much valuable knowledge and insight that society needs—whether society realizes it or not. Offer it. Someone will take it.
Be conscious of what you put into your body
This is a no-brainer. We cannot count on the health care system to take care of us. We need to focus on SELF care. No matter your age. And that means eating the right foods to nourish and build your body’s immune system. You regularly tune up your car so why not tune up your body? Eat the right foods and your body will respond with peak performance. Any doubts, Google “eating right” and you will find a near-unlimited number of studies expounding the benefits of a healthy diet. And with diet goes exercise and mindfulness.
This is an amazing time to be alive. Even in this crisis period we have so many opportunities. Be the leader you are and be a source of courage and support.