In the April 2020 issue of Guideposts Magazine, former CBS Good Morning America host Joan Lunden shares how a trip to Morocco 20 years ago helped change her life. There, she and her daughters encountered a tribe of nomadic Bedouin sheepherders who graciously invited them to join them for tea. There were greeted by a tribeswoman who was incredibly sprite and fit despite her advanced age. When Joan asked how old she was, the translator explained that this tribe does not keep track of age; they simply live by the changing seasons. How old was she? It didn’t matter. That experience helped Joan realize how much we in western society define and limit ourselves by our age. Joan has gone on to author a book on aging and in this article offers 6 tips for living life with zest and joy, regardless of age.
- Plan for Happiness – Have a bucket list or a happiness plan. Next up on Joan’s list – a photojournalism trip through the Serengeti. What projects, trips and service opportunities do you want to pursue? Make your list, develop a plan for each, and get them on your calendar!
- Aspire to Inspire – When Joan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 her first instinct was to isolate herself. But being the daughter of a cancer surgeon, she instead chose to carry on his legacy and to inspire and educate others through her own battle. She chronicled her journey on social media and wrote a book (Had I Known) about what she learned and now travels the country to speak to women and help take the fear out of a cancer diagnosis. Who can you inspire?
- ID Your Stressors – Joan shares the importance of identifying your stressors and then creating an action plan to combat each one. Part of that plan will be to simplify your life and learn to say no to commitments that don’t fit your life’s priorities.
- Pick Your Peak – Joan and her friends took a mountaineering trip to climb the Teton range. As the guide gestures towards the peaks and said “pick your peak.” In other words, it doesn’t have to be the highest one – set goals that motivate you but don’t overwhelm you. And have friends with whom you pursue your goals. Even your daily exercise routine can be enhanced when you do it with others. They can motivate you when you’re having trouble motivating yourself.
- Caregiver Plan – If you are a caregiver for older parents or younger children, develop a plan that will give you opportunities for rest and renewal. Joan recommends that by the time you are 40 and your parents are 70 you should have a talk with them about future living arrangements, finances and other aging issues so that you and they are prepared when that day comes.
- Practice Gratitude – Joan’s battle with cancer opened her eyes to just how much her family and friends loved and supported her and how blessed she is. She now takes time each day to reflect on her many blessings and to express thanks for them. For her, gratitude has become the way of life. How to become more grateful? Live in the present moment and to notice the beauty and blessings all around you. And give thanks.
As all of us move through this challenging time, consider how Joan’s tips can help you and those you love. Stay safe, stay healthy and strive each day to become the best version of yourself.