Take a chance and learn to dance!
I sat at the pool with my nose in a book, but I wasn’t reading. That was just a ploy. Really I was eavesdropping – something I love to do – listening in on other people’s conversations. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I can’t seem to help it, and as vices go, it’s pretty harmless.
That’s when I heard the woman say, “Who would have thought that at the age of 91, I’d meet someone and learn to dance!” Looking to my right, I saw her standing waist deep at the side of the pool. She looked 90, but she also looked strong and tall in her brightly colored one-piece suit. The woman looked happy, too– smiling not with just her mouth but with her eyes, too. Happy all over.
I’ve been doing some research on aging. Some of it is pretty stereotypical stuff about how we fall slowly apart over time. How our blood pressure goes up and our stamina goes down. Our hair thins and our waists thicken. Eventually we go to live with the children and lose our independence.
What does the research really say?
But the newer research (and my own experience) doesn’t bear that out. The Successful Aging Study, begun in 2010 at the University of California, has been looking at a group of 1000 randomly selected participants between the ages of 50 and 100. They were asked to rate whether or not they thought they were aging well. Interestingly enough, the older the participants became, the happier they were and the more positive they felt about their age. According to the study, being optimistic and resilient, keeping the mind active, and living in a stimulating environment are essential qualities to get the most out of life as we get older.
Well, yes, I’ll buy that. And I think the lady at the pool is a perfect example. She was open- minded enough to take a chance on learning to dance with a new man at the age of 91. I call that optimistic and resilient.
I’ve been thinking of her today because on Sunday my husband and I, along with a group of our friends, begin a series of dancing lessons. Another bit of research I’ve recently run across says that more than 70% of successful aging lies within the decisions we make.
So I’ve decided to dance.