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How to Age Well: Attitude, Energy, and New Experiences Help

A Personal Perspective: This time, it's all in your head.

Attitude and energy are two of the most important qualities a person can possess as they go through life. With the wrong attitude or low energy, life is likely to be less exciting, less fulfilling, and far less enjoyable. However, with the right attitude and a decent amount of energy, anyone can have a truly thrilling life—as I have had—filled with unique experiences, interesting people, and chasing to find that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

And there’s no reason for anyone to think they must stop following their dreams just because they’ve gotten on in years. Or reached a certain age.

“If I had just said, I’m too old nothing can happen to me, nothing would have happened to me." I made that comment on an NBC-TV news interview that focused on my being 77 years old and launching my first novel, Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives. But Scorbion is truly only the latest “chapter” in my life because I’ve chased rainbows consistently since I was a young teenager, and I’ve always found the pursuit of something new to be the most exciting part of the journey, no matter whether I’ve found the gold or not.

Now that I’m 78, why should I, or would I, stop pursuing new dreams and adventures when I enjoy the process so much, and still have the creativity and energy to do so flowing through me?

​Obviously, I won’t stop, and one reason is that I’ve always lived my life by the mantra, “if you don’t shoot, you can’t score.”

​It has never mattered to me that every time I tried something new there was a chance of failure because I’ve never been afraid of rejection. Possibly not succeeding and being criticized "come with the territory" if you’re trying something you’ve never done before, and possibly, especially for anyone creatively engaged in the arts.

I think Michael Jordan summed up this attitude when he said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” And that attitude has stayed with me throughout my senior years, just as it did for Betty Friedan, who said, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

​I interact with many seniors on social media, through OLLI presentations I give about aging and staying active, and in my daily life, and I have found an almost equal number of people who are still vibrant trying out new ventures and activities, and those who have “given up” thinking they are too old to learn or try anything new.

​I have pointed out to those who suffer from negative attitudes toward aging that I not only became an author in my late seventies, but I also switched careers and industries—from the music business to book and audiobook publishing—in my sixties. And I have thrived in that change.

​If I can do it, why can’t everyone who has the desire and energy to keep their lives interesting, varied, and vital create, or take advantage of, opportunities no matter their age?

Anyone can. You must believe in yourself, not fear change or rejection, and grab later life by the proverbial horns and shake the heck out of it.

​Did you realize that Grandma Moses was 77 when she did her first painting, Clara Peller made her acting debut at 81 (when she uttered the memorable Wendy’s restaurant catchphrase, “Where’s the beef?”). And Harry Bernstein had his first hit book, The Invisible Wall, when he was 96. They, and I, have had adventures, fun, and success later in life, and I implore every senior who has the energy and desire to do so to “go for it.”

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