Aging, Gratitude and Humor: Just Ask Paula

AgingAging is a process that we all experience … if we are lucky. It’s vital to keep that grateful perspective in mind as we each go through our own, unique developmental evolution.

Gratitude is a powerful antidote to the losses that come with this territory.  Another helpful  tool for navigating this process is humor.  They don’t change reality, but they can most definitely transform our experience of it.

Aging and You:  Here’s One Reader’s Question

We recently heard from Diane B. in Tuscaloosa, Oklahoma, who wrote:

Dear Paula,

I think I have accepted the fact that I am slower to accomplish everyday tasks than I used to be. I also try to be creative in experimenting to get the work done as quickly as is now feasible.

The only time I get depressed is when my adult children comment on my diminished capacity. I realize they are joking, but it still hurts, and I feel angry and depressed after they leave. What do you suggest?


Diane B.

Your Aging:  Reclaiming Your Power

This is a great question, and one that illustrates what I believe is a very common problem.  I mean, we have feelings about our own aging, and then these can be complicated and compounded by how others respond.

The key is always to come back to yourself as your base.  In this case, you’d want to shift your focus away from what others express and back to how you experience your current situation. That is
where you hold all the power.

One powerful way to do this is to take your ego out of the equation and focus on the humor. In this case, recognize the gentle teasing for what it is.

If you are comfortable doing it, give it right back – that can lighten the situation considerably!

If you are not comfortable with banter, deflect any barb with a smile and a truthful response.  Share honestly about changes you have noticed in yourself. That shifts the exchange gently away from humor and back to your comfort zone.

Aging is a fact of life, and the more fully you accept your reality, the less you will feel knocked off course if someone teases you.

Humor helps bring some of these challenges down to size.  And if you find yourself still feeling discouraged, you can always transform your perspective by validating to yourself all that you accomplish, despite the setbacks you face. It is important to see the glass half full – and this is a choice that you can always make for yourself.  After all the bottom line is the fact that, as I noted earlier, aging is the best alternative by far!

Have you faced challenges like Diane’s as you age?  What kinds of situations have you dealt with and how have you fared?  The more we share these experiences, the easier they are to traverse – so I’d love to hear about your aging adventures.  Leave a comment … let’s talk!

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  1. Paula,

    I love you article on aging. As I face the challenges of my seventies I am grateful for the support of fellow seniors. Yes, it is a time of challenge and I am delighted to experience it as a time of harvesting the growth of a lifetime. I continue to feel excited about the future and confident to accept the opportunities it will bring.
    Thanks for writing about this subject.
    Pat S

    • Hi Pat –
      I love your use of the word ‘harvesting.’ It is so positive and so apt for this developmental stage. The richness is there for you – and I am so pleased to hear that you are open to all that the future holds for you.

  2. “The key is always to come back to yourself as your base.” In my experience, this advice of yours really turns things around. Agreeing upon the realistic component of a ‘joke’ and reframing it in a compassionate way is a powerful and definitive way of acknowledging the charged issue directly without empowering the other person’s anger or discomfort.

    In this specific instance, who would have more mixed feelings about a parent’s aging than her children? Keeping in mind their own distress with seeing the passage of time in their mother’s aging reinforces that what someone says is always ultimately a statement about them and not about you.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Ali. I certainly agree, both about how charged aging can be in the parent-child relationship, and about how that underscores the importance of self-reference. Gentle humor and/or simple factual statements can bring us back to ourselves. And then, feet firmly on the ground, we can navigate any challenges that come our way!

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