I was talking to a woman about her life and she said “stress is what gets you up in the morning”. I am still shocked and saddened for her. Living is what gets me up!
Engagement with life is one component of successful or positive ageing, and I would suggest vital for successful living at any age. Research from positive psychology, ageing and health all indicate that engaging with life is one key to contentment and positive mental health and all its associated physical, cognitive and spiritual health benefits.
When we engage with something because it is associated with positive emotional experiences. These are linked to a concept of broaden and build- that is we expand and grow as individuals adding new skills, knowledge, personal insights, and joyous experiences to our life. Collectively these experiences contribute to something known as enduring personal resources and may be categorised as social, psychological, intellectual and physical. Essentially having engaging experiences is a life investment, a bit like putting money in the bank and building a nest-egg, except the benefits are physical, mental and psychological wellbeing. The immediate benefits are greater resilience, lower risk of stress, anxiety and depression. The long term payouts include longevity, lowered risk for disease, including dementia, and disability.
What do you engage with? Where are your future investments coming from?
It may be professional engagement through work, community engagement via volunteering, educational engagement as you learn something new, it may be with your environment gardening or being in nature, socially spending time with family and friends, a hobby or interest……the list of possibilities is infinite. The rules are simple- ‘play’ and have fun.
Identify what you like doing. Find out what brings positive emotional experiences like fun, laughter, joy or mastery, accomplishment, and triumph.
Regularly participate in engaging activities. Just as small regular deposits into the bank grow significant interest, so does engagement in life.
image from theaccidentallawyer.co