What are the tricks older people use to stay wiser, a step ahead? Here are tips from successful people:
1. Cal Ripken Jr., Hall of Famer: Think about the next thing.
“You don’t live each day remembering who you were. Baseball almost seems like another lifetime ago. You need to do something that makes you feel good day-to-day. Just as you have a sense of accomplishment as a baseball player each and every day — you have a goal to win a game or success as a hitter or make good plays in the field — I need to feel I am accomplishing something.”
2. Jane Goodall, primatologist: Walk with the dogs.
“When I’m in England, which is home, where I grew up, where my sister and her family live, there are always dogs. There I get my relaxation walking the dogs where I used to scramble as a child.”
3. Maya Angelou, poet: Forgiveness.
“The most wonderful thing, as soon as possible, is to forgive yourself. People do only what they know to do, not what you think they should do. Not because they were experienced or were exposed to this and went to this school and have this degree. We think they know, but not necessarily. . . . I forgive anyone who comes in my earshot.”
4. Tom Hayden, 1960s radical: Choose your openings.
”I don’t miss the rush of being a young revolutionary. People who have those feelings at old age need to get a grip. You need to play your role, which is to carefully observe and listen and see if you have anything to offer.”
5. Susan Stamberg, NPR host: Find young people.
“I think the big key is keeping young people in your life. I have some very good friends who are considerably younger than I am — 10 years, 15 years younger. My son is one of them. He is a good friend to me, as well as my child. He’s way across the country, which is part of why I go out there in the winter. That keeps me thinking.”
6. Stephen Hunter, novelist, ex-film critic: Understanding.
“I feel like I am smarter than I was 10 years ago . . . I mean understanding the systems of governance and culture. I mean sort of understanding those things that are worth investing anger or emotion in and those things that aren’t.”
7. Sugar Ray Leonard, ex-boxer: Give your best, still.
“Don’t expect things to be handed to you. Don’t expect entitlement, work hard for what you want, and work hard for what you dream for. Give yourself every opportunity to make those dreams become a reality. There are no shortcuts. The way you age gracefully, as far I am concerned, is to always give 100 percent.”
8. Jane Fonda: Happiness may surprise you.
“When I was in my mid-60s approaching 70, I realized I was so happy. It took me by surprise because I come from a long line of depressives. . . . It turns out through very extensive studies of hundreds of thousands of people that over-50s — men and women, married, doesn’t matter — have a sense of well-being. They are less stressed. They are less hostile. . . . They tend to see what people have in common rather than the differences, which is why we become good mediators.”
9. Joseph Giordano, George Washington Medical Center surgery department chairman and founder of the trauma team that saved President Ronald Reagan’s life after a 1981 assassination attempt: Learn something new.
“Next year I will be working with medical students at the Uniformed Services University, helping out with anatomy. I will probably end up knowing more anatomy than I did when I was practicing. You learn anatomy from a different perspective when you are a surgeon. It is very practical. You know what you are doing and where it is. When you study anatomy, you learn everything.”
10. Leonard Slatkin, conductor: Get closer.
”When one is young, the focus of attention is on the technical matters: how to beat time, where to cue in the different instruments, et cetera. As I get older, I do not even think about the technique anymore and only consider how to get closer to the intention of the composer.”