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The Role of Humor in Well-being for Baby Boomers and Seniors

Before I turn to my blog subject today, several people have asked how to read my previous blogs.  It’s easy; just scroll down a bit and you will see “Archives” on the right side of the page.  Click on those entries and there they are!  Today I’m hosting my first Guest Blogger.  She is a new friend, Max Izenberg, who writes the newsletter “Suddenly 65.”  Here is her blog:

It occurred to me the other day that many people go through life failing to find the humor in everyday events.   And  I thought how sad that is, since laughter is so very important to the human condition, especially as the years go by, this can prove to be extremely costly to your health and well-being.

I find that a good belly laugh has an almost cleansing effect on the body – practically medicinal in its quality.  Do you remember when you last had a good old fashioned belly laugh where the tears were just rolling down your cheeks?  No wonder they call laughter “internal jogging for the body”.

The best thing to do is to find humor in everyday life and it’s out there.  You just have to make a conscious effort to look for it.  I have a friend who’s a laughter coach and she claims that from the moment you wake up in the morning, you have to make a deliberate effort to look at life through rose colored glasses.  And it does help!

And keep in mind that that kind of attitude has a beneficial effect on you because it has been discovered that daily laughter can help lower your blood pressure and reduce inflammation, boost your energy and immune system, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of anxiety and tension.   It’s a powerful antidote to the everyday stresses of daily living.

That famous quote by Abe Lincoln sums it all up and really probably resonates with most people today.  He said “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die”.

So whoever determined that “Laughter is the best medicine” – maybe they were right on target.    On a daily basis try to see the glass as half full and look at life from a humorous angle even though it may be difficult to do so at times.  You will be helping yourself in so many beneficial ways.  And perhaps the best part of all is that this priceless medicine is fun and free

Max Izenberg publishes the award winning online newsletter for boomers and seniors  –  suddenly65.com.   She describes it as “places to go, things to do, and people to meet.”  It is a FREE weekly newsletter full of local resources for those 60+ so they will always be aware of what’s happening in their backyards.  You can join and read this weekly senior local resource newsletter by going to the website: www.suddenly65.com and joining the mailing list

NOTE:  If you’d like to contact me or be a guest blogger, click on this link to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and click on the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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Is it too late for Baby Boomers and seniors?

I was at a meeting recently where we were all seniors. We were going around the room each telling a little about ourselves. It was my turn, and I told my story of retiring from my career as a probation officer and becoming an actress, author, and speaker.

The next person was a woman who mentioned she was working at her brother’s law office, but she didn’t sound very excited about it. She said her dream as a young woman had always been to get a college degree. I spoke up: “Why don’t you do it now?”

“Now?” she responded in a shocked and defensive tone.

I dropped that discussion quickly; she obviously didn’t want to hear it.

The woman seemed aloof toward me after my remark. I thought maybe she was jealous. My suggestion that she revisit her youthful dream was apparently the last straw for her. She made it a point not to talk to me during the rest of the event. I think I touched a nerve.

During my speaking engagements I deliberately touch nerves.  I encourage Baby Boomers and seniors to find something to be passionate about as a motivation to embrace life.

Why should we do this at our age?  Do it for the challenge of it–the sheer joy of it.  Why should we seniors go quietly into the night?  There is still plenty of life to be lived. Now is the time to do it!  Don’t just take the easy way out–the same boring way out.

You don’t have to follow my path.  If you’ve always wanted to try something, do it!  You might have to modify it, but see if you can figure out a way to connect with that thing that excites you.

Maybe you can’t become the doctor you’d always wanted to be, but maybe you can volunteer at a medical facility helping patients in some manner.  Maybe you can’t go trekking into the jungles after animals, but maybe you can volunteer at an animal shelter.

Don’t just settle.  Find a passion!

NOTE:  If you’d like to contact me or be a guest blogger, click on this link to my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and click on the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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Try Something New

Life can get stale, just like bread.  Try something new.  If you don’t like it, don’t run back to the old, boring stuff you’ve always done; try another new thing.  Eventually something might grab you.  That’s how I got into acting.  I retired from my 37-year career as a Probation Officer and immediately signed up with the department to work as a retiree on an as-needed basis doing the same thing I’d been doing for years, because I didn’t know what else to do in my retirement.  Luckily for me, a friend told me about a local senior community program.  I saw an acting class listed in the catalog and thought I’d try it as it was something I had never done in my life–something new.  I know it’s comfortable to stick to the tried and true, both in activities and friends. However, trying something new might open doors for you that you never knew existed.  That acting class changed my life. As a result of just deciding to take a chance on doing something different, I am now an actress, author (I wrote a book about attending that class with my 85-year-old father) and speaker (about the book and about inspiring Baby Boomers and seniors to find a passion as a motivation to embrace life).

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Gratitude

I read a self-help book awhile ago called “The Tools,” because a friend raved about it. Those kind of books are usually not my thing, but I checked it out.  It had a lot of interesting things to say, but others didn’t resonate with me.  Rather than ignoring everything because it didn’t all work for me, I chose the things I liked and discarded the rest.

The part I liked best talked about being grateful. I’ve incorporated a few minutes of “gratitude reflection” into my morning back-exercise regimen.  I sit back on my heels, take a deep breath, and say out loud: What am I grateful for today?  I think of five things and say them out loud.  Verbalizing that way helps me focus on them.  When my attention strays, I notice that and gently bring it back.

I try to find different gratitudes for each day.  They might sound the same as previous ones (example: my son called me last night), but it’s new for today even though it was the same gratitude I said as last week after he called.  Doing my daily gratitudes helps me stay positive in my life.  I have so many good things and don’t want to spend my senior years focusing on the not-so-good things.

We each have a choice. If you get off on complaining and rehashing each negative, upsetting thing that happens, then go for it.  However, if you want to embrace life, stop whining and focus on what makes you grateful.

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Idea #5 to Help Baby Boomers and Seniors Find a Passion (Meetup Groups)

I haven’t blogged in awhile.  Whew!  This book promotion is occupying my time almost completely.  The upside is that it’s a lot of fun giving author talk/book signing events.  I’ll be giving my next one at 7pm at the Santa Monica library in Santa Monica, California.

Today I want to discuss Meetup Groups.  Have you heard of meetup.com?  It’s a wonderful website.  You can find groups near you of people who all share a common interest.  I have a friend who has connected with a Meetup group just for going to the movies.

I went to a Meetup group near my home of people who were interested in speaking Spanish.  We met at a restaurant and we all conversed in Spanish the entire time.  People had varying degrees of fluency, but everyone was tolerant and helpful toward everyone else.  The ages of the participants also varied greatly.   That didn’t matter as we all shared a common interest.

Just google “meetup groups” or put meetup.com into your computer address bar.  It’s not hard to do.  If you’re not computer literate, ask for help from a friend or relative who is.  If you don’t have a computer, the library has computers.  You can sign up to use them for free, and the librarian can be helpful in showing you how to get to that website.  It’s a great way to connect with others.

I know it’s hard to reach out.  Remember my motto:  DO IT ANYWAY!

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Idea #4 to Help Baby Boomers and Seniors Find a Passion (Genealogy)

Sorry I haven’t posted for awhile, but I’ve been giving author talk – book signing events about my memoir: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class.  I just gave one last week at Laguna Woods Retirement Village in Orange County, CA.  It’s been so much fun in my new role as an author.  People have responded very positively to my talks.  Today, in my ongoing discussion of things Baby Boomers and seniors can do to develop a passion as a motivation to embrace life, I’m going to talk about pursuing genealogy.  I have a retired friend who has been charting his genealogy and that of his deceased wife.  He was able to go back several generations on his own by visiting various websites.  Then, he hired a professional to go back even further.  My friend has contacted distant relatives he finds, and has been going on trips around the world to meet them and visit old cemeteries where relatives are buried.  The Mormons are passionate about keeping genealogical records on everyone they can as it corresponds with their religious beliefs.  They are very welcoming at all their churches to allow anyone to check their genealogical archives, and there are volunteers there to assist.  You don’t have to be a Mormon to take advantage of their help.  Best of all, it is totally free.  I visited the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles, CA many years ago and found my mother’s name along with all her parents and siblings in a 1920s census record.  She was only 5 years old.  It was very exciting.  Distant family members have found me because someone spent a lot of time pursuing the family genealogy.  Is genealogy something you could become passionate about as a motivation to embrace life?

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Idea #3 to Help Baby Boomers and Seniors Find a Passion (Singing)

I have a horrible voice and wish I could sing. I think there was a mistake on the drawing board, and someone else ended up with my voice. Maybe it was you. Have you always loved to sing? Now is your big chance. There are all sorts of singing opportunities for Baby Boomers and seniors. Senior citizen centers have singing classes and groups. Religious institutions of most faiths have choirs. I know a senior who has gotten great satisfaction singing in a Barbershop Quartet choir for years. Community theaters produce musicals. You don’t have to be the main attraction (unless that appeals to you). You could be in the chorus. Get on the computer and google something like “singing opportunities in (fill in the name of the town or city where you live.) Or, ask a friend, neighbor or relative. I know it’s intimidating. Remember my motto: Do it anyway!

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