In infancy, all we had to do was cry, and our needs were attended. Decisions were made for us, and most were for our wellbeing. There was little for us to decide during this period. We became toddlers, and some of the lessons we learned stayed with us. We were taught what was dangerous and what felt good. We were taught not to touch a hot stove since it would burn us. We were taught not to run into the street since a car could harm us physically. It was then we learned to decide.
Along came our teenage years, and decisions were made from emotions and what we had learned either helped us to make good decisions or we gave in to poor judgment. It was love and marriage and then raising our own children. All through the stages, decisions were made, and some affected us for the remainder of our days. Each stage required some change in how we saw our image, and we reacted.
As I look around me, I see my peers are now in the late decades of their lives, and decisions involving change again have to be considered. We make these decisions based on what we have learned from the past and what is our comfort level. I believe we choose to make decisions consciously and in the same manner we did in the past.
There are decisions we are making today in the twilight of our lives that are difficult. Can we continue to drive our cars? Is it feasible to leave our present environment? Can we still live independently? Is our health a major factor in making some of these decisions? In many cases, it is a time of change and adjustment, and it is usually traumatic to us. We can only hope and pray we have the guidance and mental capacity to make the choices with clarity and understanding of the repercussions.
When we wake up each morning, we have the ability to make a decision to spend the precious hours of the day in a positive or in a negative manner. Look around and take notice. Many of our peers are now frail and cannot do the things they have enjoyed in the past. Still, they make an effort to do the best they can with what they have. Under some circumstances, people have a choice to face the day with some happy thoughts. It will encourage them to find a reason to feel good about the day ahead.
When we start with negative thoughts, it will undoubtedly create a fertile ground for self doubt, depression and anxiety. I know many who are models for this behavior. While others, who even in times of stress and trouble, will be a beacon of light for others to follow and emulate. Negativity always uses more of our energy and deprives us of the feeling of wellbeing.
Time for you and I, my friends, is precious. Little should be wasted on things we cannot control. Energy should not be spent on anticipating what may or may not happen. Hold on to your positive thoughts and chase the negative ones away.
Linda Alessi is a weekly Lebanon Democrat columnist who writes about life’s later years.