Courage, Care, and Kindness

By Robin Bush, ISR Communications

For the past 20 years, September has been recognized as Healthy Aging Month to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older.  The goal is to encourage 70 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 to remain active and vital, both physically and mentally.  Some of us are even adopting the slogan “Don’t act your age; act how you feel.”

We have often heard the keys to aging well are to get moving, maintain a healthy diet, stay social, and reduce stress.  Healthy aging also includes three very important factors:  courage, care, and kindness.

Courage.  What does it mean to live and act courageously?  Merriam-Webster defines courage as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.  The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation.  Fear stagnates you in your comfort zone rather than finding the courage to try something new despite risks.  That doesn’t have to mean going to extremes like skydiving world record holder Irene O’Shea did in Australia at age 102; it means understanding what you are afraid of and then deciding it won’t stop you from taking chances and pursuing your dreams.  Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the acceptance of fear and the ability to rise above it to take you where you want to be.  Being courageous also empowers you with the ability to encourage others to lead courageous lives.  Start small; try a few things where the stakes are not too high before taking a bigger leap (perhaps not from a plane).  Each of those small courageous steps builds your endurance for the next bigger one.  Like a muscle, you get stronger when you use it more.  Keep a courage journal so you can reflect on your successes when you feel discouraged.  And don’t forget to welcome failure.  Most people ‘s fear of failure keeps them stuck, yet failure is an opportunity to grow.  Knowing you can survive failure means you will be more courageous next time. 

Care.  Cambridge Dictionary defines it as the process of protecting someone or something and providing what that person or thing needs.  As we care about others around us, we must remember to also care for ourselves.  Have you asked those you love what they need?  Have you asked yourself?  Britannica defines it as things that are done to keep someone healthy and safe.  Our challenge is to act courageously to care for ourselves and others even when it is most difficult.   When we care,  it improves our ability to connect and for them to care about us.  Caring is a moral and social resource we can all turn to, to build a better world.

Kindness.  Merriam-Webster defines kindness as simply the act of being kind, so we need to look deeper.  What does it mean to be kind, and why should we be?  How do you choose to show kindness?  Is it by being friendly, generous, considerate, helpful, empathetic, or doing unexpected nice things with no expectation of the same in return?  Kindness includes doing intentional, voluntary acts toward others, and not just when it is easy to do.  What would the world around you look like if you chose to do an act of kindness, which meant another person reacted by doing an act of kindness, and so on?  Try smiling at someone – it makes them feel good, and they’ll likely pass it along.  It’s that simple.  Be kind.  How can you start to change the world one kindness at a time?

Courage, care, and kindness are integral to our work at Island Senior Resources.  We know it takes courage for you to reach out for help or to think about your future, but we are here to help you take steps to ease your path.  You will be greeted with care and kindness when you come to us (by phone or in person).  We respect you and your wishes; we listen, then provide resources to help you live your best life.  Perhaps one kindness you could do for someone facing aging challenges is encourage them to reach out to us.  When your care and kindness help them be courageous, they’ll do the same for someone else.  Courage, care, and kindness are indeed the three keys to healthy aging together.