Q: Most of my friends who are 70 or older have given up on setting goals, making resolutions and looking toward their futures. I continue to make plans for myself, but feel I am falling into that trap, and I don't want it to happen to me. How can I avoid that?
A: You're very wise to recognize that you may be slipping into similar habits and to be anxious not to make the mistake of looking backward instead of forward. Self-awareness and motivation are the vital first steps to avoid this inertia.
Positivity has been scientifically proven to be good for your health. Psychiatrists have learned that when you are light-hearted and happy, your immune system changes for the better. Your blood pressure also tends to remain more normal when you choose to have a positive outlook on life.
In a Duke University study over the course of four years, researchers observed that optimists suffer from less depression and have increased longevity. Happiness has also proven to lessen heart issues.
Committing yourself to expand new relationships, exercise regularly, volunteer and focus on a new outlook will be helpful. The important thing to do is stick with the plans you make.
Wrote Anthony Burgess, "Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore and you sleep alone." -- Doug
Age Is Just a Number
Q: I'm an 83-year-old widower, and my family worries a lot about my age rather than my ability. I talk daily with my neighbors, have a housekeeper and exercise three times a week. I pay my own bills, and I cook my own meals. I have the normal aches and have an annual medical checkup.
They want to discuss all these things. Although I realize they know the truth, sometimes I fib a little when I don't want to answer by pleading selective hearing. My girlfriend lives two doors down from me, and I recently heard my son tell his wife that I may be exposing myself to a possible heart attack when we have sex.
Are they right to worry?
A: How to answer that question? First off, it's wonderful that your family loves you and wants to have you around for a long time to come. On the other hand, there are some things that are up to us to decide. Yes, there is some risk in physical exertion at your age, but I'm betting you also want to have something to live for.
Instead of dancing around the truth, sometimes it can be best to air out, and it sounds like you've come to that point. If you discuss this with your family, be sure to let them know that you appreciate them but also that you want to live a life worth living. Some things aren't worth all the worry. Try to assert yourself, but keep in mind that they're coming from a place of caring.
If all else fails, you can always remind them that you can update your will.
Doug Mayberry's weekly column, "Dear Doug," can be found at creators.com.