The Antidote to Premature Aging

 

Photo Credit: Lisa DeJong

A friend of mine told me that she was inspired by the example of others recently to start a new hobby. The hobby she chose, rowing, met several criteria for her as it was outdoors, involved opportunities for solitude as well as social time and provided exercise without physical exertion being the central focus. I wish I had a camera so that I could share with you the light that was in her eyes when she described her new-found passion.

 

Hobbies provide avenues for self-expression, personal development and  change in rhythm. My college soccer coach, who was a marathoner himself, taught me that varying the rhythm in distance running can provide for better performance and greater mental alertness over the long haul. The same could be said for your daily rhythms. If you are stuck in a “it’s time to make the donuts” repetitive rhythm, you might want to consider shaking it up a bit.

It is so easy to get into repetitive patterns that turn lightly-worn paths into ruts over time. I once heard someone say that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth and I feel strongly that everyone should find ways to have variety in life, to fill out flat spots in development and to express themselves more fully throughout life.

Consider this: no matter how old you are right now, dear reader, you are as young as you will ever be for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to start! Take up that hobby or activity that you’ve always thought would be interesting. What do you have to lose?

An active body and an active mind are an effective antidote to premature aging. Likewise, a balanced oscillation between activity and rest makes for better sleep, greater productivity when awake and a progressively more influential life. I find it strange that many people seem to give up on the idea that they can live generative, influential lives right up to their last living breath.

One of my readers, “FlyingGma” (Flying Grandma), is a grandmother who took up flying very recently in her life. I loved to hear her story and continue to enjoy reading her posts on her travels. Life needn’t be a bell curve, where you return to inactivity and impotence in your latter years. In fact, life can be and should be an ascending spiral, where its actors soar ever upward like a hawk in a thermal.

If you find something that lights your fire, that pushes you to perform closer to the edges of your present envelope and that calls for something new from deep inside of you, I will assure you that the rest of your world will benefit. Passion is contagious! Even the dullest aspects of your life will receive a breath of fresh air if you allow yourself to open up in new ways.

Gird up your loins, as they used to say, and enjoy a new challenge. The nature of the activity doesn’t matter; it could be physical, intellectual, esoteric, practical, serious or outrageous. The fact that you dive right in and let your mind and heart be caught up in a new field of creative expression is what truly matters, for flow begets flow.

I imagine that some of you have taken up new hobbies recently while others are contemplating them. Please share your stories! I’d love to hear them and how they affected your worlds.

28 thoughts on “The Antidote to Premature Aging

  • This is a great way to stop premature aging! One of the great things about modern society is that we have the time to take up a hobby (i.e. we are not all subsistence farming). I see many people lose their sense of adventure as they get older. That’s sad, not because it isn’t right to stay home and have kids or the like, but because you can still have a kindled sense of adventure even if you don’t get out much. They are not mutually exclusive, you just can’t be lazy or timid about it. Thanks for the inspiring words.

  • “The fact that you dive right in and let your mind and heart be caught up in a new field of creative expression is what truly matters, for flow begets flow.”

    Excellent point, for just now I was awake, contemplating how to allow something move at the level of heart, at a greater depth than has been the case to this point. I would have to say you answered my question with amazing timing!!!!!!

    Thanks for saying something deeply moving at the exact moment it needed to be said, greatly appreciate, and will certainly share with you the result of what is on the move!!!

    Have a great and generative day!

  • It really is never too late. Hobbies, regardless of how complex are a great way to meet new people, develop existing skills and learn new ones. I think the thing I like most about them is how they develop appreciation for different areas, whether it’s bird watching, tornado chasing or flying!

  • I love hobbies!! What better way to increase the quality of the flow of your life? I also find I’m more productive too!

    • Gardening is magical. It is one of those exercises that beings and ends with notable, visible progress. Most people are intellectual workers today and they have very little opportunity to use their hands or to connect with the earth. Gardening is a window to tranquility!

  • When I was younger I thought hobbies were a waste of time, but then I turned 65 and realized all of my friends had developed different interests and knew what they liked to do. Now I’m 65 and just seeing the world for the first time. Well I’m proud to say, I like fishing! I like sitting in the boat waiting for a bite, buying bait to walking all around the Bass Pro shop ( just for fun). My point is if your young and don’t have a hobby, run do not walk to get one. And if your older it is never to late to live!

    • Good for you! I remember fishing with my parents and grandparents as a child. I learned tons about patience, persistence and boating through my father and my grandfather’s love for fishing. I’m sure you inspire others, too!

  • All the world needs is to learn to sail. Everyone is younger, richer, healthier (in their own mind ofcourse) when they are in a boat, eyes closed, wind and sun on your face. Becareful though it’s kind of contagious!

    • My uncle and I earned our sailing certifications two years ago and I spent a bunch of time on my grandfather’s catamaran as a child. Sailing is one of the most delightful water sports!

      • I couldn’t agree with you more on sailing being one of the most delightful water sports. I grew up with sailing since I was five. My dad built his first sailboat in our diningroom during the winter. We had to remodel the kitchen to extricate it from the house in the spring. He is 74 this year and still loves sailing.

  • Great blog!! My husband and I took swing dancing at our local YMCA last year to spend time together. It was magic. He’s not as big of fan as me. Now I swing dance and salsa every week. Who knew?

  • I was one of those people who never had any hobbies. I was too busy raising children, very involved in my career and taking care of older parents. I didn’t feel unfulfilled without hobbies and enjoyed those chapters in my life. But now that’s done and I’m really enjoying discovering what interests me. I also see that traditional hobbies can have ancillary paths, rather like gateways, to an entirely new stage of your life. An example is a quilter that I read about did some beautiful quilts using the hobo symbols of the 1930’s. She is now a lecturer and wrote a book on the subject.

    • There is always time for a hobby. Even if you’re extremely busy, working multiple jobs, raising children, etc. you can still find time for a hobby that takes five minutes a day, like bonsai!

  • I know people who have no hobbies and I do not understand. I’m not talking about people who have fascinating wonderful lives either. Just run of the mill, mostly boring lives if you ask me. I have lots of hobbies and continue to develop new ones all the time. As a matter of fact I just started a new blog! While a friend and I were out thrifting it just hit me and so I came home and started a new one. I’m still learning about blogging and the things I blog about. The new has to do with sewing. An area I don’t know much about but thats ok, I’ll learn as I go.

    http://skirtingit.wordpress.com/

    Today I decided it was time for a totally new hair color, black. My five year old grandson looked at the box and said well, I don’t really think it would be so great. You’re older and grandmas don’t really have this kind of hair. Oh really I said. He proceeded to tell me how beautiful he thought my hair is now. And by the way I am only fifty, not a little gray haired old lady, so yes, yes I will try black hair. 🙂

    Thanks for the encourgement. It’s an important subject. One that too many people ignore.

  • We did most of our sailing on the many lakes in Minnesota. One winter we pulled the sailboat on a trailer from Minnesota to the Gullf of Mexico to sail. It was great to trip and a lot of fun sailing around the Padre Islands.

  • Thanks for this post, Gregg! It’s too easy for people to do the have-tos in life (have to get up and go to work, come home, eat supper, go to bed) and forget to do the things that make their lives richer — things they can look back on and say, “Yeah, I did that!” I appreciate the reminder.

    I, too, am inspired by FlyingGma and am happy she led me to your blog!

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