This is a guest post by Jane Wyker.
We live in a culture that greatly favours youth and looks upon ageing as decline. How do you perceive yourself as you age? When do you think you leave youth behind?
According to George Bernard Shaw, youth is wasted on the young. As I see it, through our life choices we gain more understanding and opportunity to discover our purposes, develop our talents and learn what it means to love. We have time to deepen our spirituality and learn what makes us happy. We can then contribute more to each other and to the world.
I see life as an inside out process and the key to a full and satisfying life is self-discovery. The mind leads the body, and our outer lives are clear mirrors of our beliefs. Our thoughts, and the feelings they generate, have a huge impact on how healthfully and gracefully we live and age.
Holding onto painful, fearful and angry thoughts and feelings undermine our health and creativity. The converse is also true — when focused on positive thoughts associated with hopeful, grateful, happy feelings, our body chemistry responds with well-being and healing. In his renowned book “Anatomy of an Illness,” Norman Cousins reveals how he was miraculously healed of a painful and irreversible disease with daily doses of laughter, as he watched endless hours of comic movies and videos!
We can look inside and discover what we think and feel anytime — from childhood to old age. We have more freedom to do this as adults since we are no longer dependent on anyone for our survival. Self-discovery requires living in the present, not only with our outer experience, but also our inner life. How present are we to what we think and feel, right here and now?
• Does your belief support your well-being and desires, or is it holding you in the place you have been standing for years?
• Are you repeating experiences, perhaps with different people in different locations, that feel the same and have the same unwanted results?
• Has something new opened inside of you that feels expansive and optimistic?
I am now 80 years old, and have attended to my inner process since I was 34. I have found it to be a goldmine — a consistently fascinating practice that connected the dots of why and how I made my choices, and how they created happiness or sorrow. I came to understand that all these choices were valuable, and contributed to the person I am today. I was gradually able to understand why I chose limiting roles, relationships and patterns, freeing me to choose more fulfilling ones. With each step inward my discord diminished, giving me more energy to express myself, more willingness to take risks, more connection to my creativity, more ability to love myself, others and life as it is. By sorting out past limiting beliefs I have come into closer contact with my authenticity, my soul.
The choice to look inward and discover your authentic self is a vital decision in moving towards personal happiness. It can be made anytime, but many never choose it. Some people, when looking at their lives, don’t like what they see and blame their parents, mates or the world for their unhappiness. That will never lead to healing. Most only turn inward when in extreme pain, when their lives are not working and they have no more outer answers.
How intimately do you know yourself? How connected to your life’s purpose are you?
Your age is only a number. It is never too late to discover yourself. Now is the only time there is!
Jane Wyker is a former family counselor, author, mother, teacher and spiritual explorer. Her debut memoir, Soul Selfish: The Awakening of a “Good Girl,” illustrates her journey of becoming aware, learning to focus on personal feelings and desires as well as meeting the needs of family, friends and community.
For more information, please visit www.janewyker.com.
Image: Lucas Budimaier