Have you noticed that some people seem to find their inner zen and worldly wisdom as they age while others only seem to settle into negativity and bitterness?
Have you ever wondered why that is?
As we get older, there are two opposing forces that can impact our general happiness and outlook. Two divergent agencies both raising their voices to be heard.
Which one will you listen to?
The Voice of Life Lost
When I look around me, I see some people who have made it beyond middle age without suffering any major setbacks or losses. But only a few. I’m convinced that wrinkles are only partially due to thinning collagen and the relentless pull of gravity. I think wrinkles are the visible signs of the emotional scars we carry in ever-increasing numbers.
And as those hurts and losses begin to compound, it’s easy to become buried. Become embittered. It may seem that there is more lost than has ever been gained and the thought of trying again feels insurmountable. With so many difficult life experiences, everything can become tainted, turning the once-innocuous into a potential trigger.
Some people let this toxicity build like an algal bloom on a once-clear lake, blocking out all of the light and choking out all of the life. Their lives become a tally of what has happened and how they’ve been targeted by misfortune.
As they grow older, they become more agitated, more pessimistic and often as a result, more alone.
The Voice of Life Lived
And then there are those who listen to the other voice. These souls are no more fortunate, no less likely to have experienced hardship. They simply hear a different message.
They look back at their long lives with its many struggles with the gift of perspective. Perhaps they are able to see how something that was devastating at the time became a gift, even though it was unwanted and a great price, after the passage of the seasons. They view their myriad losses at part of the signs of a life spent giving and loving rather than focusing on what is no longer present.
Instead of questioning why things happened to them, they are able to look back with a sense of quiet pride that they made it through so many trials. And that confidence gives them the optimism that they’ll make it through the next one as well. With time and practice, coping skills and strategies have been perfected and practiced, using the difficult times as opportunities to become better.
Instead of focusing on what they don’t have with bitterness, they view what they do have with gratitude.
Thankful for every moment and every breath.
We all have both voices speaking to us, the proverbial devil and angel perched upon our shoulders. Which voice will you listen to – the one who counsels misery or the one that brings you inner peace and wisdom?