Whenever I mention my elderly relatives, someone will ask me if I have ever picked up on secrets to their amazing longevity. I had a great uncle who was very overweight and smoked and drank in excess, yet lived to be well into his nineties. My 101-year-old great aunt is the deadly apple shape, which is supposedly the telltale clue to early death. My aunt, who turned 90 today and who looks amazing for her age, is the most health conscious of the group. She can usually be found at a fast food restaurant. While much of their astounding fortune at playing health roulette was probably just genetics taking over for their horrible habits, I refuse to play that game. While I am far from being a gym rat, and I very likely will never be found in the petite department shopping for my clothing, I have paid close attention to something they have all done right. They love trying new things.
When we think of a typical old fogy, we think of someone who is grouchy, stubborn and set and in their ways. One way to keep our brains sharp and our outlook young is to try new things. So what if we make a total fool of ourselves! It’s not like we haven’t survived looking stupid in the past. In recent years I’ve added things to my “new” list; refinishing old furniture, photography, yoga, trying recipes using ingredients I’ve never used or heard of before, and writing this weekly guest blog post for a childhood friend. What’s the worst that can happen? Something I was going to take to the curb anyway has to be taken to the curb because I mess it up; a photograph is blurry or doesn’t look quite right; I realize I’m not as flexible as I used to be; I cook something and don’t like the way it tastes; I write something that stinks. So what? Really, that’s what not succeeding at something new boils down to: So what? Unless skydiving is on your short list of new things to try, the risk of failure pales in comparison to the thrill of doing something new or outside of your comfort zone. Trying new things seems to be what has kept some very interesting old folks I know from becoming bored with life. It has kept them excited about the prospect of living another day.