In my musical show, based on my long life of adventurous living and sponge-like learning, I declare,
“The best way to grow older is to grow younger!”
Most of the older audience smile or laugh. I was born slightly before the Baby Boomer Generation (1946-64). Since age 60 (life’s final Act 3), I’m happy I’ve lived life enthusiastically, cultivated curiosity and self-knowing, expressed creativity actively, and developed a youthfully dynamic mindset and lifestyle.
My two-decades as a senior have been characterized by high energy and happiness, which has contributed to my youthful spirit and appearance.The title of this article was inspired by a younger European friend’s quip,
“Hey, Larry, you’re the youngest person in the room!”
Thanks, bro, but actually I’m often among the oldest present. It also helps me that I’m doing wonderfully with what I understand to be aging’s key criteria: Wellness, passion, purpose, relationships, fulfillment and peace.
I prefer to view old age as an opportunity to feel in the prime of life. This contrasts to depicting it as the sunset of life; when decline and distress, limits and loss make people think it’s worthy of a Shakespeare tragedy. Most of us are programmed by our culture, the media, and the old people we know or simply observe. Too many react to the sad stereotypes of high-age numbers, rather than recognize how capable, creative and conscious many seniors are.
This article tells my story of crossing the 60-year threshold into old age, my shock at immediately facing health challenges, and what I’ve learned over the past two decades about creating a growing-younger quality of life.
The “I’m Suddenly Old” Meltdown
For most of their lives, my parents looked and acted younger than their chronological age. And, I inherited their good genes. But soon after I turned 60 years, I felt I was rapidly aging – with my physical ailments, frequent fatigue, shaky self-identity, and dark thoughts taking their toll on my holistic health and lifeforce.
In this depleted state, I considered two different aging scenarios for my future:
- A. What I might expect – a miserable life, given the prevailing image of old age as a downhill slide.
- B. What I might intend – aging with ample wellness and youthful vigor, thus defying the stereotype and enjoying an astounding life.
At the time of this health meltdown, my physician couldn’t identify my illnesses’ causes, especially my problematic digestion. Sounding unconcerned about my symptoms, he looked me in the eyes and said,
“Oh, this is what comes with old age; welcome to the club!”
Yes, I might now be old in years, but in my mind and zest for living, I saw myself as still vibrant and youthful.
Also, from decades before, I recalled friends 60+ telling me they themselves or people they knew had reached their 60th year and afterwards came down with physical or mental troubles, and started to feel and act like older people! Well, here I was at 60 getting my parents’ health problems!
During the three months after my physician’s comment, I went from one medical specialist and health practitioner to another. I tried both the Western medical and Eastern healing communities. But my unpleasant symptoms persisted.
Then, I found the studio of an Asian holistic healer, near my home in a Washington, DC suburb. After giving me an exam of yoga poses, what she told me made a lot of sense,
“Larry, a lifetime of you poorly coping with stress has worn out parts of your body, and is disturbing your emotions.”
Then, the healer said my condition could be reversed – if I embraced yoga, meditation, energy-body healing, and Taoist spiritual studies. All of which her studio offered. I was eager to regain sound health, and recharge energetically youthfulness. So, I signed up. After a few months, I was healthy again!
Since then (at 60) and now (at 80), my state of wellness has been robust. (Except for a six-month episode with cancer at age 77; now all gone.) Today, I can assert with confidence,
“I’ve never felt better in my life…or about my life!”
For people who guess my age these days, they usually peg me at five to 20 years younger than I am. And more important, my current medical metrics confirm I’m in far better shape than the old-at-80 stereotypes and many Baby Boomers!
How I Rejuvenated My Life
In my senior journey of the past 20 years, I’ve developed seven strategies that help me optimize my holistic wellness, and maintain a state of rejuvenation:
1. Releasing beliefs no longer serving me. In my childhood, I didn’t have a choice. I simply did what my family, peers, religion (Judaism), schools and the media said I should think, feel and behave. For a long time, I did my best.
But, in my 30s, I sensed more and more that other people’s rules for me were not right for me. Sticking to their rules failed to bring me happiness and peace of mind. Instead, they triggered fear, hurt, anger, guilt and shame. Realizing I was unable to meet their expectations, I initially concluded something must be wrong with me. So, with low self-esteem and self-worth, I faked emotional maturity. I nervously entered rooms, loused up relationships, and silently agonized inside.
When eventually I increased my emotional awareness, with a bit of spiritual connection and some of my Jewish heritage’s wisdom, I saw myself more clearly. I realized that my negative childhood beliefs were part of me, but not essentially me.
Eventually, I learned how to release my negative and limiting parts. I’ve benefited from this psycho-spiritual practice for self-liberation:
- I acknowledge and feel my negative-charged emotion that arises
- I think how it was installed in my past, and does not define me today
- I see what has come up as simply a thought, feeling or habit – not basically me
- I use my power to let it go from my holistic beingness.
A single release and replacement session may be enough. But for entrenched and recurring self-negatives, repeating this process is necessary.
2. Immersing myself in a spiritual context. As unconscious negative emotions are released, space opens up for expanding spiritual awareness, connection and energy. Higher consciousness has enhanced the full spectrum of my physical, mental and emotional system. We can get wiser and ageless simultaneously!
This is how I infused myself with greater spiritual understanding:
- Started with readings and lectures by living and ascended masters – from the West (stages of development) and East (states of being).
- Considered diving deep into a single religion, Judaism, the one of my childhood. But, intrigued by indigenous and Eastern spirituality, I embraced the shared core of several ancient and contemporary spiritual traditions, or Universal Spirituality.
- Found people with whom to discuss a range of spiritual principles, and who desire to support each other in practicing them.
- Set up daily rituals to raise my spiritual awareness – such as meditation, prayer, affirmations, and inspirational readings, music and videos.
- Learned the value of often expressing gratitude, compassion and forgiveness.
- Articulated intentions for strengthening and expressing my spiritual insights.
- Distanced myself from negative people and situations.
3. Following healthy and creative eating habits. Our overall health reflects how well or poorly we eat. It’s sound advice to feed the body good nutrition, keep its energy flowing, and avoid harmful foods and practices that erode health and invite in disease.
It’s easy to say listen to your body, but it takes a lot of sensitivity to notice the causes and effects of food and health, and eat to minimize damage and maximize benefits. I’ve been finding what works for me: Foods that are natural, organic, GMO-free, no sugar and salt, pasture raised, farm fresh, in season and locally grown.
As we age, some foods we enjoyed in our younger decades may no longer be appropriate. Giving them up may feel like a sacrifice or penalty. With each of my senior illnesses, I’ve chosen to switch to healthier foods – because I want to prevent new diseases, and feel great on the day I die. And, as I drop certain foods from my diet, I make greater effort to practice creative cooking.
I’ve evolved a health and invigorating eating pattern by:
- Giving up or minimizing very much unhealthy foods – such as those with sugar, sugar substitutes, salt, deep fried oil, animal fat, dairy products, and artificial ingredients.
- Going for healthier ingredients that are nutritious, delicious, raw, colorful, in variety, international, exciting and comforting.
- Relying mainly on a plant-based diet, such as vegetables from land and sea, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, coconut products, eggs, dark chocolate, and green and herbal teas.
- Enjoying a variety of ethnic foods to broaden my repertoire and stimulate my joy of eating healthily.
4. Soaking up Nature’s healing energy. One definition of stress is the absence of Nature. For the past 20 years, I’ve lived near Nature – places where I could relax, heal, revitalize and inspire my body, mind and spirit. I went into Nature to enjoy its forests, mountains, meadows, rock formations, bodies of water, spring flowers, fall foliage, and weather-performing skies. And plenty of sunshine.
Being in Nature, we can benefit the body’s health and energy, peace of mind, and inspiration from its beauty and awe. Here’s how I’ve reveled in Nature by accessing its healing and elevating power:
- Going alone or with family and friends
- Breathing the pure air slowly and deeply
- Exercising by tapping the body; and stretching, twisting and shaking the limbs
- Choosing to walk, hike, jog, bike and climb
- Riding on a body of water, or swimming in it
- Gazing and reflecting on the landscape, plant life, and wild animals.
5. Launching an initiative inspired by my life’s gift. For most seniors, life has included two mature stages: Activity 1/Primary Career and Activity 2/Retirement. Some people lengthen the Primary Career, full time or part time, because they love their work or need the income. Others enjoy the Retirement that frees them from the routine and rigors of work, and enables them to relish entertaining, uplifting and expanding experiences.
Then there’re other people, including me, who realize: A Primary Career no longer suits us, and Retirement fails to satisfy and stimulate us. Thus, we may desire to transform and rejuvenate our life with Activity 3/Legacy Contribution.
After I retired in Sedona, Arizona, I took advantage of this small city’s unique mix of natural beauty (red rocks and high-desert landscape) and nurturing communities (visual and performing arts, healing and spiritual providers, and tourism and business). I became immersed in hiking, photography, personal development, community events, political activities, gardening and singing lessons.
After three years of singing to my friends, I had an epiphany about my life’s gift – which is a talent and mission beyond my biography’s skills, unique to my inner nature, and deeply and divinely inspired. I recognized my Activity 3 as Edutainment – which combines two of my passionate lifelong themes:
Wisdom Education and Creative Entertainment.
This clarified my new life mission: Helping all people, especially my age 60+ generation, to heal, grow and share.
Identifying myself as an Edutainer led to my founding The Larry Show enterprise (www.TheLarryShow.com). I created four one-person, musical-and-inspirational shows – based on my provocative life journey and valuable lessons learned. In the past eight years, I’ve performed shows in America and abroad, 50 times.
While entertaining audiences, I’ve become a role model for discovering one’s life gift, reinventing one’s life endeavors, and demonstrating it’s never too lateto express one’s authentic self and pursue one’s life mission.
To people still listening for their calling for an Activity 3 focus, answering these questions may be useful:
- Who do I want to become as I age?
- What is my unfulfilled life vision?
- Which of my talents and dreams do I long to explore and fulfill?
- Which groups and causes do I want to serve?
- Which individuals and groups do I want to collaborate with?
- How can I improve my life – by learning, growing, socializing and contributing?
Your answers may uncover your life’s gift, mission and Activity 3. And then, you can soar and thrive with youthfulness and vitality.
6. Hanging out with older and younger people. There’s an expression I like,
“If you want to master a game, play with people better than you.”
Ah, but in our senior life, better at what? It could mean intellectual ability, creative expression, physical health, sports or hobby performance, emotional maturity, social relating, or spiritual realization. Most of the people who have these higher attainments are older individuals. Ideally, your life’s gift will connect you with those who have achieved higher levels of consciousness and wisdom, from whom you can learn how to learnabout living an enriched and amazing life.
The other valuable group of people for seniors to connect with are younger generations. When I find myself the oldest person in the room, it tells me I’m doing something right about being open, receptive and young in spirit. And I find younger people are receptive to engage in a substantive conversation with a person like me who is several decades older than they. I’m eager to mentor them, as they will be our future leaders; and learn from them how to understand and cope with our fast-changing world, especially the technology area.
I believe it’s the responsibility of conscious seniors to mentor, coach and teach younger people. We were educated informally, so now it’s our turn to be sharing what we’ve learned. The world needs sane and sustainable strategies that assure our civilization and specie a positive future. To achieve real progress with the huge issues facing Humanity and the Earth, the synergy of older and younger people working together is imperative.
7. Letting my inner child energize my life. With my Activity 3/Legacy contribution being edutainment, a key step in doing this has been to get in touch with my inner child’s energy. So, the child-me can feel, play and heal the senior-me more authentically and deeply. Rejuvenation at an older age requires the inner child’s energy, freedom and imagination.
To let your inner child run free and energize your being takes inner work to have a heartful conversation between the senior and inner child. The senior must convey that the inner child is now safe, and the you the adult will now take care of them. In that way, the inner child can be creative and joyful, and infuse your authentic self with more exuberance.
We have to shake off the layers of old-person thinking and habits, and feel again the flexibility and delight of being young in spirit. Youthful is not childlike, because in this context we seniors still possess the maturity and wisdom of a fully lived life.
How I’ve gotten to know and enjoy my inner child is by:
- Healing with love and joy my emotional wounds
- Observing and playing with fun-loving children around me
- Engaging in activities I remember as being fun
- Figuring out how I can think young (imagination) and behave young (playfulness)
- Hanging out with people of all ages, who are feeling and celebrating their inner child.
For your 60+ life, how do you want to live? My choice has been to rejuvenate, revitalize and renew my senior life – by becoming younger as I grow older.
Since turning 60, I’ve thrived by creating my life as a work of art. To own it and communicate it to other seniors and their loved ones, I named it, Adventurous Aging. This way of life involves becoming awake, aware and alive; valuing the old and embracing the new; taking risks with promising adventures; finding inner peace; and living a well, good and long life.
I enjoy sharing my Adventurous Aging holistic wellbeing system with other seniors – via coaching, workshops, writing and speaking. I invite them to develop and enhance their:
- Mindscape – with added positive and inspiring beliefs
- Philosophy – love and joy, infused by higher consciousness
- Strategy – growth goals, potential, opportunities and actions.
In this way, the over-60 crowd can get in touch with their extraordinary elder’s inner power resources – based on their life experience, recognized wisdom, intuitive knowing, and unleashed superpowers (two of mine are singing spontaneously created songs and cooking elegant foods based on Japanese philosophy). In practicing Adventurous Aging, our lifeforce powers up, and youthful energy fuels our wellness and longevity.
For a fuller description of Adventurous Aging, see https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100082105301582; to discuss how Larry’s coaching can benefit you, contact him at email@example.com or Whatsapp.com/1-928-202-0010.
Larry Rosenberg’s life mission is to share consciousness, creativity, connection and contribution. Post-retirement, he founded The Larry Show, one-person musical and inspirational shows based on his life’s wisdom, and Adventurous Aging, holistic wellbeing coaching and workshops for people 60+ to reset their life from retiring to refiring. Prior to these enterprises, his 50-year career included higher education in marketing (New York University and University of Massachusetts Amherst), international management training (University of Maryland Global Campus, Tokyo), innovative business consulting and coaching, and holistic health corporate communication. He earned a BS from Drexel University, and an MBA and PhD (Marketing) from The Ohio State University. He lives in Pompano Beach, Florida, where he delights in the area’s tropical lifestyle, cultural diversity, and business vitality.