By Younas Chaudhary
I recently read a post from a man in his late-seventies who confessed that after loving his parents, siblings, spouse, children, and friends he has finally started loving himself. In June 2014, when my wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia, I was devastated. For the first 3 years, I had a very hard time with myself thinking of our hopeless state as there was no cure for these debilitating diseases. Nine years have passed, though it seems like yesterday to me. This personal tragedy has taught me a lesson: age gracefully loving yourself despite your personal circumstance.
The doctor who visits my wife regularly told me that it was important for me to love myself and to take care of “me”. For years, I had lived for others- parents, siblings, children, spouse, and my business. My South Asian culture always reminded me to put others before myself, contrary to the West where rugged individualism is the norm. Back in our culture, parents expect their kids to stay home with them and look after them during their old age. But in the West youngsters would find their way and leave home once they reached 18.
Loving oneself is one of the best remedies to age gracefully, especially after retirement age. Despite the tough day-to-day routines with my wife, whose physical and mental capacity is of an infant, the last few years have taught me to pay more attention to my own daily routine and needs. I’ve started loving myself by staying positive, and by associating with only those people who can bring happiness and positive influence. It is very hard and agonizing to see my wife in pain and behaving like a four month old child.
I could wake up tomorrow thinking that it’s another sad, gloomy and cloudy day, but I won’t. Every morning I wake up positive, I regularly exercise, eat healthy, stay positive and I am happily productive.
Flashback to my twenties where I thought I had several decades to go before getting old, and later in my forties, I thought there were several decades in front of me. When you are past a certain age, the decades ahead become a digit that you can count on your fingertips showing the remaining short life you have left to live!
These days, enjoying each sunrise and sunset and fully loving myself is helping me age gracefully. I hear the birds sing, listen to ocean waves at the beach and look at God’s creations of so many natural beauties. I am thankful for the caregivers who devotedly look after my wife around the clock. I consistently work though I don’t worry about day-to-day work issues or other small problems. Sometimes I feel I had the same attitude, zeal to see God’s glory and beauty, and pay attention to myself when I was younger so things would have been different. But that’s the past.
Once I started loving myself, aging came naturally, and everything seems to be in a state of flow. I have little use for the past and rarely think about it negatively. Aging gracefully, I control, alter, and make positive my yesterdays. I focus on the windshield and not the rearview mirror. I’ve shut down the old windows of life. I am way less grouchy and I’ve gained the confidence to take every day as it comes. I work on today by “embracing the present by each present moment,” as writer Eckhart Tolle says in his bestselling book “The power of now.” Stay Blessed!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.