The road I live on isn’t paved. It stretches for a mile – a dusty avenue wide enough for two vehicles, and treacherous after a heavy rain.
I knew this a dozen years ago when we found our property, which ultimately became our home, at the end of this road. But I never loved the drive in. My aging compact car rumbled fiercely every foot of the way; forget ever staying clean.
About a year ago, someone told me about an alternate route, a smoother road. It takes me a bit out of my way. But it’s gentler, so I travel it to and from my home all the time now.
Recently as I cruised along, I considered this question: What would my life be like if I did most things the easy way?
When it Comes to Aging Well, There’s No Substitute for Hard Work
Life’s hard, and we work hard at it. And Thomas Edison was undoubtedly a genius. We grow up believing his words that there’s no substitute for hard work, and other messages like it – ones that have been downloaded into our psyches for most of our lives.
In our 20’s we struggled to find ourselves. We worked at this, stumbling along the rocky path to adult-ing, a journey fraught with potholes and pitfalls.
In our 30’s and 40’s we’d strive to enjoy the benefits of our hard work. We searched for the career path or the life partner. We raised our children and the balances in our retirement funds. One can argue we worked hard to create an easier life.
Now it seems like every 21st century information outlet believes that once we turn 50 we reach a golden milestone, sort of a promised land.
Yet many of us then face new obstacles: ailing or aging parents, jobs that have sucked us dry, older children who are as needy as ever. Loss of a spouse or loss of our own health. There’s no painless way through some of these turning points.
Doing things the easy way can feel impossible. Aging well takes effort, but, it is worth it!
Embrace What’s Easiest and Leave the Rest
I realize that obstacles and life changes await us at 60 and beyond. But there are some things we can do to allow more ease into a life that will continue to challenge us.
Along with finding a new way home, I’ve discovered a few other opportunities to take the easy way out.
Ease Up During Your Day to Day
I try to make it easy on myself every day.
I avoid ladders and tall step stools and all that needless climbing and stretching that are not in my exercise regimen. I let my dishes air-dry, wear a short hairstyle, and hang my clothes in the closet according to color. That makes it simpler for me to decide what to wear.
Online ordering and home delivery have changed my life. I’ve given up all-day travel from store to store on an endless hunt for things I can now find with a few clicks of a button.
Choosing the path of least resistance, even in the smallest ways, feels better.
Ask for Help
If there’s one thing I’ve learned by now it’s my limits.
I’ve found that there are people eager to install, move, deep clean, paint, or haul. All the activities that sound hard to me.
You can do it yourself if it’s easier, and you can ask someone to help you when it’s not.
There are endless simple ways we can be nourished in our everyday lives. I look out the window a lot. It’s a peaceful, colorful view, and all it requires is a few minutes of my time.
I’m also more selective about how and with whom I spend my time. It’s hard to crawl out from underneath relationships that are less than life-giving. It’s easier to avoid them in the first place.
There are a lot of things in the world that will lighten your heart and ease your life. Seek them out, or let them find you.
Stay in the Flow of Life
Living a lighter, easier life means we can stop paddling against its current, resisting what’s happening. We can learn to trust that events are happening in our favor and just let go, at least for a while.
And if switching to “cruise control” is hard to do, you can always ask for help.
Life may not get easier as we age, but our life choices and the paths we take can smooth our way. Little by little, we can learn to “try easier” instead of trying harder.
What do you do to stay healthy and active? Would you be willing to ask for help when the task you’re attempting to do is too overwhelming or difficult? What does aging well mean to you? Please join the conversation!