Thursday 22 August, 6:50am
An Attitude of Gratitude in my Swinging Sixties
Our guest blogger this week is researcher and author, Angelique du Toit. For those of us who are post 50, this blog gives us food for thought on the value of positive thinking as we age.
My fifties severely challenged my optimistic default position. As with many women before me, I have had to embrace changes at a physical, mental as well as emotional level when I reached the magic age of 50. I had to adapt and manage the changes brought on by the menopause and coping with my husband’s health challenges. It was also during my fifties that I lost my beloved brother to cancer leaving a big hole in my life.
However, since turning sixty I have had a new injection of energy and zest for life and I have labeled my sixties decade as the swinging sixties! It is my intention to have a year-long celebration and take a positive attitude with me throughout this decade. I am also determined to rediscover and express my own unique eccentricity.
Given my experiences and those of other women who have shared their stories with me, it is my mission to inspire and encourage women to embrace life beyond 50. Some of you will be aware that I am writing a book to do exactly that and debunking some of the myths that surround the journey of ageing.
The thread running throughout the book is that of attitude. It is key and whether we are a glass half full or a glass half empty person, there is enough research to suggest that a positive attitude can become a learned behaviour. We cannot always control what experiences life put our way, but we have control over how we respond and what we take from the experience.
We have the choice to bend and flex enabling us to survive and grow or become rigid, inflexible and inevitably snap in the buffeting winds. This statement is supported by Cognitive Behavioral Psychology, which suggests that the meaning we assign to our experiences will largely determine how we react. In other words, we respond to our interpretations of events and not the events themselves.
Many of us would have shared similar experiences during our lifetime. However, I can guarantee that we would all have had our own interpretation of the events and therefore responded in a way that reflects our own assumptions and views about the world. Research supports my philosophy of ageing and that a positive attitude is a recipe for better physical and mental health.
There is also a very practical reason why we need to pay attention to our attitude in life, particularly as we age. Once again research proves beyond doubt that having a positive attitude towards ageing not only prevents future ill health, but it also helps to keep the mind sharp and active. The converse applies and a negative attitude is likely to significantly contribute to both physical and cognitive frailty.
Attitude is a mindset; a choice that has a significant impact on the quality of our daily living. Furthermore, having an attitude of gratitude not only shifts our mindset, but it also serves as the lens required to find solutions to things we want to change. Being grateful means we have a more positive attitude to life in general.
Gratitude results in higher levels of positive emotions, satisfaction with life, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. Focusing on all those things in our lives to be grateful for boosts our happiness and our general sense of wellbeing. It is therefore a good habit to end the day by listing those things we are grateful having received or experienced that day.
Independent Researcher and Author