How many times have you heard that someone is "set in their ways?" Have you said it yourself as a defense against change? That phrase is used as a blanket statement about older people. I’m pretty sure it is not a compliment. In my work with adult children who are trying to help their parents with decisions and plans, I hear it often: “Dad will never leave the farm.” “Mom will be the caregiver until she dies of exhaustion.” “My folks are so set in their ways and won’t let us help them.” The simple truth is that it translates to, “I will not change!” I think it is sad that anyone refuses to continue to expand their thinking and be open to change, but it is everyone's privilege to live life as they choose. We get to decide even if our decision is a bad one. Banging you're head against the wall of ‘set in my ways’ is frustrating beyond words.
There is another path we can take in life. If you fight change and are set in your ways, your body, mind, and spirit atrophy based on a narrowing collection of habits. It’s hard to imagine that anyone thinks atrophy is a good way to live. You are either growing and expanding your life or you are wasting away. How curious that we have braved the world and all of its challenges for many decades and at some point decide no more change. So it takes purposeful thinking and maybe even a paradigm shift to say, “I am willing to change my mind to something new.” The most beautiful Elders I’ve met, and those that inspire me, continue a life of curiosity and growth. You know it when you have a conversation with them. They ask questions about you, they smile, they have a view of the future, and it is good. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” Let’s abandon the phrase "set in my ways" and embrace "I’m interested in new ways." Join the conversation on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.