Fun and helping others keep you young

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

It can be a shocking experience to one day learn that you are at an age where you are considered to be a senior citizen. This is what happened to me last June 30 when I retired. When I was a full-time employee, the workload was such that I didn’t have time to think about aging. On the other hand, it can also be a blessing to know that you have been fortunate enough to reach the age to receive the status of a senior citizen, especially if you are still able to lead a normal, active and happy lifestyle. However, I think it’s sad when some people stand on the sidelines and try to throw a wrench in the lifestyle of active seniors.

For instance, when the news media reported that a 60s famous rock and roll star Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones was preparing to make a comeback and go on a world tour with his music, some critics began wagging their tongues saying that he should retire and just not perform anymore. I say as long as you have it flaunt it. Jagger and I are the same age and I can remember one woman saying that I should retire completely when she learned that I was continuing this column. Then I realized that some people think that when you reach retirement age you should just sit down and wait to die. I feel that no matter what age you are, you can create your own fame in your own way and get the same adrenaline rush as Jagger. I get mine through this column along with other things. When you reach your golden age, this rush will contribute greatly to the satisfaction and happiness that you will feel while achieving your fame and doing your thing.

On NBC’s Today Show that aired from 7-9 a.m. last Sunday morning, M.J. Ryan, the author of &uot;The Happiness Makeover,&uot; was a special guest. She defined happiness as a home base of contentment, satisfaction, and enjoyment that a person lives in most of the time rather than being in chronic fear, worry, sadness or anger. It is the place to come back to after meeting the challenges of life, and to feel satisfied and joyful. Ryan said that research has proven that we can learn and train ourselves on how to be happy and, in turn, happiness has to do with thoughts that we hold. Ryan said that when we think positive thoughts, we activate the part of our brain that interferes with feel-good hormones, and that we are born with this tendency.

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To train yourself, Ryan said you

should ask yourself three questions. What am I thankful for today? What am I satisfied about today? and What did I enjoy about today? She also said that when you are grateful, kind, generous and do any act of kindness to others, it makes you personally feel better and gives you an emotional boost.

That is why you see smiles and joy in the faces of those who participate in events like Relay For Life, which took place last weekend at Nansemond Suffolk Academy. These people are joyful because they know that through their efforts lives will be saved while they are raising funds to find a cure for cancer. That is why you see joy in the faces of senior volunteers who participate in the Meals on Wheels Program, Angel Wings Transportation Unit and other similar volunteer programs. Through their efforts they are showing others that someone cares.

I also get satisfaction, joy and contentment from my community organizations because we work and put on programs to raise money to help send students to college and to fund community projects. However, my biggest boost comes from the smile of my father when I visit him at George Washington Rehabili-tation and Healthcare Center in Chesapeake and take him

his favorite food, fried chicken. It also comes when I visit with other residents there who don’t have many visitors. My siblings

and I have actually made these residents our family.

My 89-year-old father gets his satisfaction and boost when he sits and plays his harmonica for residents.

One of

The Rolling Stones

biggest hits during the late 60s and early 70s was &uot;I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.&uot;

Now, I am glad that in 2005 he has finally found out what getting real satisfaction is all about-still being able to have fame and fun at 61.

Evelyn Wall is a regular columnist for the News-Herald. Call her at 934-9615