For all of those (including me) who are “getting on in years” and occasionally have that feeling that you’ve got the blues and life is somewhat empty, especially approaching holiday season, here’s my two cents worth as far as finding a solution to that problem.
It’s called volunteering! Volunteering you say? That’s right, Volunteering!
It’s no secret that as we grow older and begin to slow down a little, we tend to withdraw from society and social activities to some degree. When we were still in the workplace and going out on the job every day, we probably led fairly active lives and enjoyed the friendship of a good number of people. Somehow, after we retire, that circle grows smaller and we tend to pull back from society a little and become much more content to enjoy the pleasure of our own company! Along with that withdrawal usually comes a more sedentary lifestyle accompanied usually, by a lot more television watching, a lot less physical activity, an empty “nobody loves me” attitude, and quite often a more negative, melancholy, narrow minded frame of mind. Gradually, your world becomes smaller, you go out less and less and find reasons to stay home and stay in more and more. You …are growing old!
If I sound like I’m speaking from personal experience here, it’s only because I am!
It’s not hard to allow yourself to drop into this ever narrowing circle of aging. It begins innocently enough, finding excuses not to go out to the theater or go see some friends you used to really like hanging out with. It’s just so much easier to curl up on the couch and catch some long forgotten movie or read a good book. That’s a rut that is very easy to fall into and it’s only by a stroke of sheer luck that fate came along and saved me from becoming a total couch potato!
By sheer chance I found out through a friend of mine about a program that consisted of playing music at the bedside in hospital settings for healing purposes and he suggested I take a look at it. While graduation offers some paid positions there are plenty of volunteer opportunities as well, and it didn’t sound to me like an insurmountable challenge so I signed up and struggled my way through the program. When you have finally achieved the level where you’re actually allowed to play for patients, the benefits are easy to see. What I didn’t see coming were the benefits and effects that doing this kind of work were going to have on me!
To say it has changed my life is putting it mildly. To be able to lift someone’s spirits or be able to see the smiles on peoples faces because you were able to help a little, or lift them up a little, is truly an inner feeling money cannot buy! I know I’m not talking about a new idea here, I’m just reinforcing what’s already been said about a million times by others and now I’m simply preaching to the choir!
Last week I was in my doctor’s office for my annual physical and was bending my doctors’ ear with my new found philosophy and he listened to me quietly and then spent a good amount of time giving me his affirmative opinion on the topic. He also stressed the point about how many prescriptions for anti-depressants might not get written if more people in their retirement years found a way to volunteer and help. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a tonic, and once you begin, not only will you be helping others, but you’ll be amazed at the way your world will become a much brighter place!
Don’t spend a whole bunch of time asking yourself, “what can I do?” No matter what you did in your past life, there is literally nowhere you can go where you won’t be able to find an open volunteer position that is something you’ll like and something you’re familiar with. It’s out there, just look around and you’ll find it. Once you try it, I believe you’ll find it’s a life changer!
Send me your comments and critiques. I’ll read them all and use them if I can.
Have a great week everybody.