One of the secrets to staying young, or at least feeling young, is adopting and keeping a growth mindset. I have pondered this as I've watched the world of my parents and inlaws shrink. With never-ending doctor appointments, meal planning and regular responsibitilies that seem to take more and more time, where is the time to develop new friends, contacts and even read?
Is Your World Shrinking?
One very positive thing both sets of parents have done is get involved in local church groups. As both my sisters are married to ministers, this has been an easy call for my parents. They visit both my sister's churches each weekend, (Beach Cities, Bay Cities) resulting in an expansion of their social network. They even keep up with the sermons with a growth mindset, recalling some of the messages in our conversations! (They are turning 88 this year!) For my inlaws, the situation was similar in their later years, as their church offered both support and engagement. As we just said goodbye to my mother-in-law, it was so sweet to see the continued support from her extended church family.
Your extended groups will most likely be different, but it's important to be open to expanding your social network at every stage of life, especially at halftime! We hear stories every day of those who lose special people all too early as their close circle shrinks. As a musician, I have had the privilege of honoring many lives, graduating from this life much too young. The reality of a shrinking world is all too real to me! But what if you're hesitant to meet new people you don't know? Read on!
Ideas for Keeping the Mind Active
Remember, a growth mindset is a decision! Find activities that will help you engage in conversation as you exercise your mental muscles! Even though opinions may differ, being able to voice an informed opinion is very helpful when meeting new people. Here are a couple ideas:
- Read at least 30 min. a day. Expand to different types of books, magazines and journals.
- Learn about a new hobby. Take notes from watching YouTube videos--you will learn more quickly! (it's still O.K. to use pen and paper!)
- Learn a new language. Duolingo is actually the most popular way to learn a language in the U.S.! Greg and I are learning Italian together!
- Join a group where you will be challenged, such as Toastmasters for speaking or a local service club as Rotary, Kiwanis or other. They love new members!
What to Say?
What if you have a hard time engaging in a conversation with someone you don't know? For many introverts, this can feel like an unsurmountable dilemma. But no worries, there's a solution! Listen carefully, then ask questions! Don't worry about your question sounding stupid. If it's about the other person, they won't care! They will keep talking and will think you are the most interesting person in the room! It really works-try it!
If you have adopted a growth mindset with some of the ideas above (plus a few of your own!) you will be able to engage in the conversation with what will at least sound like an informed opinion! This really works. There is so much focus on I, ME, and MINE in our society, so when you give your attention to THEM, you will be a breath of fresh air!
Staying Engaged Mentally
Staying engaged mentally with a growth mindset will help you continue to connect with more people. I speak and write about the importance of picking those in your close circle very carefully, and also to form a lifetime small group. However, outside of those small, close circles, it is important to expand and engage with others. This is a decision, then requires action. As I usually donate my time speaking to at least one local service club a month, I find many of those groups in dire need of fresh new faces to take up the torch for very worthy causes! Those groups are plentiful! I look forward to hearing about your progress! Remember, it's never too early or too late!