Floral bouquet

Trying new things!

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I’m an old dog who has learned some new tricks. Last year, at 78, I started taking a yoga class and I absolutely love it. It isn’t always easy but I feel just great when I am done. Sometimes I even feel a little giddy – it’s wonderful.

Honestly, I always thought yoga was left over from all of the hippie years. It seemed too “far out” for my tastes. My granddaughter talked me into it. She even found me a class for Seniors so I wouldn’t feel so out of place. But she just kept after me, telling me how good it would be for my arthritis and how I’d feel happier. She was right. Honestly, I haven’t felt this good in years.

You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. I guess it’s because the class has made me realize just how set in my ways I had become.  And I want to know why that happens – can you tell me? What a waste, huh? All of us old people sitting around, afraid to try new things. How did we get so stuck in our ways?

I hope that if you answer my letter, maybe other seniors might get up the nerve and try something different. Tell them it’s worth it!

Yoga Fan

Dear Reader,

Three cheers for you! Yes, isn’t yoga one of the most invigorating yet relaxing things we can do for ourselves? And you are absolutely right when you say that is isn’t just a leftover from the glory days of the hippies. People of all ages are discovering the many benefits of this practice. It stretches our muscles while clearing our minds. What could be better?  I am so glad you finally gave in to your granddaughter’s loving pressure and tried a class. You’re my kind of “old dog”!

So, just why do people get stuck in their ways? Seniors aren’t the only ones who can become locked into dated beliefs, behaviors, and habits. Unfortunately, It’s common among all ages, and for many of the same reasons:

1) Fear of the unknown. Most of us like to be in familiar settings, function within known circumstances. It makes us feel more secure, more content. As we age, these circles of comfort get even more embedded into our approach to life. Think about what it took for you to actually step outside of your comfort zone into something as strange as yoga? Were you nervous? Afraid? Self-conscious? These are all things people prefer to avoid.

2) People tend to be fairly judgmental. We take in information and lock it into our approach to the world. No matter that this information may eventually become out of date or even be inaccurate in the first place, once we lock onto it, it generally stays put. Judgment seems to define our world – it is a feeble attempt to make sense of our surroundings or events.

3) People are often afraid to be wrong, to admit mistakes. Even in the face of new facts, people hold fast to their beliefs. Better to be hold fast to outdated beliefs or practices than, God forbid, have to admit to being wrong!

4) Change is difficult. There is security in doing the same things over and over again. Rock the boat, or merely consider rocking the boat and old “chatter” can pop up: “What if I look funny?” “ What if I do it wrong?” “What if I am the oldest person in the room?” These internal messages can keep a person immobilized. Sadly, this kind of internal  blather seems to become an individual’s gospel with age.

I applaud your courage and honesty. Here’s hoping other seniors, and people of all ages, can risk making a change.

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