Video Transcription

Thank you all for your patience. Hello, everybody, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much as always for being with us. Today, we are talking about positive aging. Wouldn't we all love that? It is possible for just about everybody, with the right mindset, of course. And today, we're gonna help give you some tools that you can use to thrive while aging. Our best resource for this, of course, is the woman you see on your screen, Diane Lang. She is a positive psychology educator and coach. She has a wealth of knowledge and we are so happy that she was able to come back and join us here on the program. Now this webinar, we expect, will last about an hour, and we will make up for the time, that we just got logged in here. So we're looking to go to the top of the hour, maybe just a couple of minutes after that. We, of course, as always, encourage you to be a part of the conversation. And to do that, you can just scroll down to the bottom of your screen where it says q and a. Feel free to type your questions out there at any time during the presentation, and I will be happy to read those to Diane at the end of her webinar. Thank you again for being here, Diane. It is lovely to see you again. The webinar is all yours.

Thank you so much, and it's great seeing you again too. Hi, everybody. Welcome to Positive Aging. My name is Diane, and I have been an educator teaching at Montclair State University for over seventeen years and have been a counselor, excuse me, for over twenty years. So I'm really excited to get started, and let's get moving. So a little bit about, the science behind this. Everything we're talking about today comes from positive psychology. And if you haven't heard of that, positive psychology is just the newest branch of psychology. It was coined in nineteen ninety eight by doctor Martin Seligman, who at the time was the president of the American Psychological Association and now runs the graduate school at UPenn in positive psychology. What makes it a little different is when we're talking about typical psychology, we're talking about mental illness. We're talking about what makes us depressed, anxious. When we're talking about positive psychology, we're talking about what makes us happy, what makes us resilient, optimistic, and having an overall really good well-being. And under the rainbow or umbrella of positive psychology is positive aging, which is my favorite as I age, positive education for the school systems, and positive parenting. So today, we're gonna really talk about how to age well. And I put in a few quotes to start because for me, it really hit me, and I'm in midlife. And when we're talking about positive aging, we're talking about aging well starting as early as possible. So whether it's young adulthood, twenty to forty, forty to sixty five, where I am in middle adult to or later adult to sixty five plus, you always wanna be positive aging, and especially because we're living much longer. We're actually living today anywhere between our mid to late eighties, healthy and happy. And according to the science, this is a little scary, but the newer generation, which is even newer than my daughter who just turned twenty one, they will be able to live to, they think, a lifespan of a hundred and twenty due to all the medical updates and artificial intelligence, which will be able to do things we could never do before. But either way, we always want to age as well as possible, healthy and happy. Right? So the first thing is by David Bowie, the famous musician. He wrote "Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been." And why I love that is, it's so true. As we get older, we get more confident. We feel a freedom to be ourselves. We become a little bit more authentic or true because we lose a lot of the fear or looking for acceptance and approval from others, which gives you sense of freedom. I wish I had all that experience and knowledge when I was in my twenties and thirties. Would've saved us a lot of pain. But as we get older, we realize that, and we feel more confident in our own skin. The other quote I love by Betty Friedan, the famous author and feminist, is aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength. And in all honesty, every chapter in our lives, no matter where you are today, whether you're in middle adulthood, you're in later adulthood, every chapter is filled with new opportunities, new gifts, and we have new strengths that we can use. And remembering this, every chapter in our life, whether it's due to aging or it's a chapter that's due to your kids moved out and it's empty nest, you're semi retiring or retirement, you're downsizing. All of that is an ending, but also a beginning. So every time we have a beginning, we are met with new opportunities, new gifts, new possibilities, and we always have the strengths we always have and new strengths. So, really, aging is all about how you perceive it, how you look at it, what lens are you looking through. And that's really important because mindfulness, being mindful, is all in our control. So when you look at every situation that happens in your life, there is two sides to every situation. Right? There is the positive side and the negative side. But the good news is you get to choose where you put your attention and focus and concentration. So with aging, with any situation, you want to think about where are you putting your focus. It's all in your control, which is great news because we tend to think we don't have a lot of control as we age, but that's not necessarily the truth by any means. So if you can think of aging as a gift, which it is. Right? You know, unfortunately, I just lost a close friend of mine a week ago, and he was seventy six. That's still very young. So it's really about thinking of aging as the gift. Now a little bit about the placebo effect and the emotional side of aging or the mental side. Right? When we talk about aging, we tend to look on the physical side, which is really important, and we know that. But what about the emotional side and how it affects how we age? Well, there is a great experiment done by Ellen Langer. It's called the Ellen Langer placebo experiment. So doctor Langer is the first female full time professor at Harvard University. She's also an author. And in the nineteen seventies, she did this great experiment where she took twenty men to a, kind of a retreat for a week. Now back then when she did this, it was the nineteen seventies. Twenty of these men were all in their seventies, mid seventies. And what has happened to them was in their seventies, they were all feeling a little depressed. They felt like they didn't have any purpose or meaning anymore. Most of them felt sad, they said. They had arthritis. Most of them walked with a cane or walker. They were hunched over. Their fingers were a little bit. And she took them up to this retreat where everything was laid out to be like it was in the nineteen fifties. And in the nineteen fifties, these men were all in their fifties, and they felt vibrant, full of life. They felt active. They felt strong, and they were enjoying life. So she took them there for a week, and they had this whole retreat set up like it was the nineteen fifties. They had the TV that was in black and white. They had the tray tables that people ate with the TV dinners. Every magazine, every news article, the music, every type of interior design was set up that it looked like it was the nineteen fifties. Now when she got there, her and her teaching assistant realized they made this big mistake, that they didn't have any help. And all of these gentlemen getting on the bus with their luggage had help. So when they got there, most of the men were like, I don't even know how to get my luggage into the building. I'm not strong enough. I don't have enough energy. She said it took them hours. People were helping. They were pulling things out of luggage to make it less strong. You know? And she kept saying, what a mistake. I shouldn't have done that. Halfway through the week, after feeling that it was in the nineteen fifties, the gentleman really started believing it was the nineteen fifties, and they were in their fifties. By the end of the week, every one of those participants in this study gained weight, and they all needed to. They all left without their cane or walker, carried out their own luggage, walked straight instead of hunched over, and their moods were completely different. That's the placebo effect. What you believe absolutely affects how you age. So when you think about that placebo effect, and we're not saying don't get traditional medicine or any help you need traditionally. Absolutely. But we're saying your mindset, which is completely in your control, plays a huge role in how you age. And we also see this even with illnesses. If you've ever heard of doctor Bernie Siegel, he's a physician that deals with cancer in New York City, and he wrote a book about the same thing. He would have clients who came in with a cancer diagnosis that was completely treatable. But if they thought they were going to die and there was no hope, they usually did. Then you would have clients or patients come in, and they had stage four pancreatic cancer, which is a death sentence. And they said, nope. Not ready to go, and they would live another four or five years when they only had three to six months to live. Your brain plays a biggest role in how you age, and I learned this one of the hard ways. Unfortunately, my best friend growing up, her mom got cancer at seventy two years old. It was pancreatic cancer stage four. And doctor said to my friend and her, you know, her brother, you know what? It's all about quality of life. We could do a little bit of chemo just to kinda help her, but we're seeing six months. And when the doctor told their mom, the mom actually looked up at the doctor with her finger and said, nope. I'm not ready to go. They just had a baby. I am living longer. Doctor said, great attitude. Love that. Keep it up. Still turned to, you know, my friend and her brother and said, you know, the attitude's great, but, again, we're looking at about six months. Seven years later, no exaggeration, seven years later, she finally passed on. The last six months were a little bit hard for her, no doubt. She had six and a half great years, and the really ironic part is she was a smoker. She smoked cigarettes her whole life, and the doctor didn't even ask her to quit because they didn't think it was worth it, and sometimes quitting caused all this withdrawal. They, like, just try to cut down, gave her an oxygen tank, and she still smoked the next six and a half years. Doctors couldn't figure it out, but my my friend's mom will tell you it was all attitude. And, again, we have a lot of placebo experiments that say this. So think about what is your belief system on aging? Really think about that. Now one of the things to think about when we think about aging is your belief system, and all a belief system is are thoughts that you have over and over again. Now what happens is you get these belief systems when you're in childhood between birth and about seven, eight years old, when we absorb like sponges. Right? That's the time where we learn quickly. We absorb everything. Between those ages of birth and about seventy eight, you are learning all your belief systems from the people who raise you, your parents, your grandparents, your siblings, if you had a babysitter or nanny, whoever that was. And we learn as children through role modeling, imitation, and observation. So not only what your parents or siblings talked about, but how they acted shows you a lot about their belief system, which you downloaded at such a young age, and that became your belief system. So when you look at your parents and your grandparents and say, how did they age or how did they view aging, That'll give you an idea of what your belief system is about aging. Like, for me growing up, I remember when my mom turned around forty, and she cut all her hair off. She had long hair, cut it all off. And I remember some of the neighbors did that, some of her friends. And I remember being like, mom, why'd you cut all your hair off? Not that it looked bad. It just was kinda confused because she always had long hair. And she's like, oh, as you get older and you hit, you know, middle life and stuff, you should cut your hair short and dress differently. And I remember thinking that, and it stayed with me for a while until I got older and I realized I didn't like that belief system. When I turned fifty, I refused to cut my hair off. I like long hair. It's what I feel comfortable with. I changed the belief, but I remember holding on to that belief system. For majority of my life, I just challenged it. So when you look at aging, there are people who think once you age, you're not useful anymore. There's nothing to look forward to, and they will not have the positive aging experience. If you believe that as you age, things get better and new opportunities and possibilities come, then aging will be a positive experience. So that's one of the first things to think about. What is your belief on aging? The other question is what's your belief on change? Because aging is just change and transition. Right? We go from perimenopause to menopause. We go to the empty nest syndrome. Even men, their hormones shift. We go through retirement, then we downsize. We move. All of these changes happen. So what is your belief system on change? That's really important too. And change absolutely can be scary. We know that. When change happens, whether it's planned and exciting or unplanned like COVID, either way, it could cause what we call anticipatory anxiety. The fear of what could happen, the what ifs. That's completely normal and natural. But if you look at aging as, okay, it's gonna be tough. I might even be a little fearful, but I'm excited to see what's on the other side, or I'm excited to see how much I grow and change, then it'll be a different experience. So I want you to think about how to handle change. How do you handle transition? What's your belief system? Because those two are really important because with aging, everything's changing both physically, what's going on around in the world, and emotionally, as well even spiritually, things change. So think about your belief system, and if your belief is not serving you, again, you have the ability to change it. It's just about being self aware and making the changes. The next thing to think about is aging and how we age. This was a great new statistic that I learned a few years ago that's really shifted my view on aging. Only twenty five percent of genetics plays a role in your longevity. Think about that. When I first graduated graduate school for my master's and I started counseling in the mid to late nineties, I remember having clients coming in going, I can't change. I'm a victim of my DNA. It's my parents' fault, and we used to fully believe that. Now we know this. Aging is only affected genetically by twenty five percent. The rest of how you age is all lifestyle. And what we mean by lifestyle is thinking like this. With lifestyle, you want to remember that lifestyle is about managing your stress. How do you cope with stress? How do you cope with change? Now remember, we can't live a stress free life. If I ever find that magic pill, I promise to pass it on. But the truth is stress is not necessarily so bad. Excuse me. Excuse me. I'm having allergies here in the New York area. All the flowers are blossoming. But it's really it's how we manage stress. So as you age and you start thinking about it, yes, genetics plays a role, but what does your lifestyle look like? That's the really important part, your diet, your sleep, how much water you're drinking. Do you exercise? Do you do mindfulness of any type? It doesn't have to be meditation. So a lot of people say they can't meditate or yoga. There's a million ways to be mindful, but how do you reduce stress? Looking at your lifestyle, which again gives you a lot of control that you probably didn't think you had beforehand, so remembering that statistic. Now jumping in a little bit to the happiness side, right, because we're talking about positive aging and positive psychology. What do you think is the happiest age range? Just think about that for a minute. Growing up, you know, we've had young adulthood. We had our teens and tweens, right, the midlife. What age range do you think is the happiest? So, surprisingly, when I learned this research, it wasn't what I thought when I learned this fifteen, twenty years ago. But the truth is most people think that the happiest age is younger, but that is not the case. So the two most miserable age ranges where we are our least happiest, the first one is teens, tweens, which makes sense. Right? Adolescents. We're going through all those changes. Who am I? Who do I wanna be? Where do I fit in? As well as all the changes we go through physically with hormones and puberty. Call that age range identity confusion. Now you know why. The next miserable age range, believe it or not, falls in midlife. Now midlife is forty to sixty five. It's a long range. But most of the time, the unhappiness, which we call the u it's shaped like a u, is in the forties. Because what happens is we have perimenopause and menopause. A lot of times, it's empty nest. A lot of times, it's the sandwich generation taking care of your kids as well as your parents. But what happens is somewhere in your forties, you start reevaluating your life. You think about what you plan. So most of us make our plans of what our life will look like in our late teens, early twenties, and we decide we're going to marry this type of person, have this many kids, live in this area, do this kind of career, whatever your dream look like. Right? It's different for everybody. And somewhere in your forties, you go, you know what? That dream, it didn't turn out as I planned. Or that dream, that was a real dream in my twenties, but I don't feel the same way in my forties, which is completely normal because we're always changing and growing. So you start kind of reevaluating, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a midlife crisis. I hate that kind of wording because the truth is we have crisis at all ages. We're just shifting. We're just transitioning. So that can be tough, but then usually somewhere in your early fifties, you start peaking a little bit. And what happens to most people in their fifties is they start having the sense of freedom because they're no longer looking for acceptance and approval from outside of themselves, and that's huge. And when I first started counseling again in my twenties, I remember hearing clients say to me, you know, all of a sudden, anywhere between, like, fifty and fifty four, I just excuse my language, but this is exactly what clients would say. All of a sudden, I just didn't give a crap what anybody thought of me. And I didn't believe it because I was, like, twenty seven, twenty eight. I'm like, really? And it's so true. I hit fifty three, and all of a sudden, I was like, you know what? It's okay if you don't like me. I mean, of course, we care about the people we love close to us, our family and close friends, but no longer caring what everybody thinks about us is such a sense of freedom. And that starts usually in your early to mid fifties, but the peak of happiness is sixty plus. We get happier as we get older. Now there's a few things in there that can shift that. Right? So if you have an injury or an illness, just, you know, of course, that can shift your happiness levels. But remember this, that's for any age. You're going through an injury or an illness, even if it shifted who you are and shifted your identity, you had to make all these changes for life, it'll take you a while to heal physically and emotionally. You'll grieve who you thought you would be. You'll grieve your pre injury or illness life. But after you get through that, which could take a few years, you actually go back to the same happiness that you are pre illness or injury. And I worked for over fifteen years when I was counseling full time with traumatic brain injury and spinal injury. I had many clients who had a normal physical life, and then due to a stroke, due to a brain injury, an accident, military, whatever it was, a lot of them went out paralyzed from their chest or waist down. And, yes, they had to heal. They had to grieve. And, again, physically and mentally, two to three years later, they go back to their set point of happiness, and the same thing happens for us. So that can shift it for a little while, but you do have the ability to go back to being whatever your happiness level was free of that injury or illness. The other thing is losing a spouse. Right? And as we get older, that absolutely can happen. And this is the thing. Even if we lose a spouse, which is horrible, again, we need to go through the healing and the grieving process, but we do have the ability to be happy after that. But, again, it could take a few years. So we do get happier as we age. We also gain confidence. Again, we're more comfortable in our own skin the older we get. Get a sense of peace, as I talked about, because you stop looking for that acceptance and approval. Not only does it give you peace, but it gives you a sense of freedom that you didn't have before. The other thing that can happen is we're open to taking a few more risks. And, again, that starts happening in midlife all the way straight through because, one, we have more resources to do it, which could be financial, supportive, whatever that is. We're also more experienced to know that what we can do, and we're open to it. Now as we get a little older and we hit later adulthood, sometimes people get a little more nervous, but there's a big chunk in there where we are willing to take some risks. And, again, risks don't have to be huge. It could be just trying a new food or drink. You'd be trying a new sport. Maybe you switch from tennis to pickleball. Might be trying a different way driving to a different restaurant, like taking a different route. It's always just about stepping outside of your comfort zone, which should be a daily thing. So every time you step outside your comfort zone, or I have my clients just ask themselves this, how can I challenge myself today? Just asking yourself, and, again, it could be small. It could be, you know, I normally have orange juice for breakfast. I'm gonna try grapefruit. Don't know if I like it, but I am. And, you know, we always eat at this place. Let's try a new place. I always read fiction. Let me try nonfiction. What happens is every time you challenge yourself, you grow and expand, which is why you always see your happiness is on the other side of your comfort zone. I don't want you to live outside your comfort zone because if you live outside of it, you'd be on fight or flight all day. But when you take those little risks during the day, every time you do it, you grow and expand. You also build resiliency because even if it doesn't turn out, maybe the restaurant was horrible and your food was bad. Maybe you tried asking a question at an event and you didn't get a good response, you got ignored. Either way, you start seeing, okay. That didn't work out as planned, but I survived that. I may have even thrived from it and learned from it. That's building resiliency. It also shows fear that you're not willing to let it control you. We're all gonna have fear, as we said, especially with aging and all the unknowns and uncertainty. But you'll feel the fear, feel the fear. Can't say that. You'll feel it. But if you still do it despite the fear, you're embracing it knowing, okay. I feel it. I know you're there, but I'm not going to let you control me because fear could be very paralyzing. So the more you challenge yourself, the more you let your kind of push away and not control your life, which is really important. So every day, just ask yourself, how can I challenge myself today? How can I step outside my comfort zone? Really important, and it's something if you do every day, you'll see the growth. And I see a lot of my clients are trying a new form of exercise. They're trying to challenge themselves maybe by doing a five k, whether it's walking or running. They're challenging themselves by learning new things. There's so many different ways. It's just wanna keep your brain fresh. Thinking of your brain as a muscle is really important because it is like a muscle. We can we have two things we now know we can do. You can retrain your brain to go from negative to positive. We also know that you can retrain your brain to have better memory. And one of the best for cognitive skills, right, your memory, your focus, your attention span, your concentration, all of that is learning new things. Every time we learn something new, we're working our brain. So if you think of your brain as a muscle that you can improve on, like your buys and tries, Well, not me. I'm pretending I have a muscle. Just say I did. You can work on it the same way. So exercising your brain, obviously, doing cognitive work is great, but challenging yourself by learning something new is big. So thinking about that. When we age positively, it also means that we need to know that we need other people, and we do. We can't heal, grieve, or forgive, or process alone. We need other people. That's a big part of life. You don't need a lot of people. We just need a few people that are unconditionally there for you. And that's the key, unconditional. Now what does that mean unconditional? It means that they don't have conditions no matter what. So they won't be like, well, can't listen to you because I'm busy today, or I would love to, but I just got other things going on or it doesn't fit their schedule. They're unconditionally love and respect you no matter what, which means they won't abandon you, they won't judge you, and they won't reject you. And that's important because if we feel that people will judge us or they'll reject us, we won't open up. We won't be authentic. We won't be vulnerable. We won't self disclose, which is very unhealthy when we're pushing all of those emotions down. Right? So as you get older, remembering that we need to have relationships. We need to have just a few unconditional relationships. If for some reason that is not available for you at the moment, where family, friends aren't there, then you wanna think about it in a different way. So maybe if you're very religious or spiritual, it could be your rabbi, your priest, your minister, your pastor. If you're still in a working situation, it could be your HR, EAP. If you have downsized and you're living at senior living, it could be anybody in the staff as part of your family. If it's medical, it could be your doctors, your specialists, or it could be professional, a therapist, a life coach, social worker, whoever it is, but we need to have that unconditional support. So making sure you have that, that is really big because it's one way that we also reduce our stress by knowing we have people that we can go to. So the other way with thinking, because we're always talking about the emotional side of aging, is a lot of people think when they're aging that they're old and they're broken. I've heard this from a lot of my clients. I just you know, I'm broken now. I had a client says to me the other day, she's sixty one or two, and she said, I'm just broken. You know? I've been through so much. I have so much baggage. I'm divorced. We're not broken. No one is broken. No one needs fixing. We're just human. That's all it is. So, again, even if you've had a lot of past baggage, even if you've had a tough time in certain areas of your life, it doesn't mean that you're broken or need fixing. We all, this is the truth about aging and living. If you're gonna be part of the human experience and you're going to age, you're going to have setbacks, you're going to have failures, and you're going to make mistakes. Completely normal and to be expected. The thing is, how do you look at it? All setbacks, failures, and mistakes are really just teachable, learnable moments. And if you can look at it from that growth mindset and ask yourself those questions every time you go through a tough situation, what did I learn? What did I learn about myself? What did I learn about the situation? How could I do things differently moving forward? And, really, it was just a learning experience, which is what we want. That's how we grow and expand, and that is really important. So thinking about aging is not something to fix. Now when we're aging and we hit that midlife and up, we get more me time because our kids are older, whether they're still living home, you have, you know or you have empty nest where they're gone, you still get more time. So my daughter still lives home. She's twenty one. Right? She'll be graduating college in May. But I still have a lot of time because she's always at school working full time, at her boyfriend's. We don't see her that often, which leaves a lot of lot more time for me to do things that I would have never done when she was younger because I didn't have the time. And any time I did have, I wanted to spend with her. And now that she's older, I have more time to do the things that I want. So a lot of times we push our dreams and our goals to the side to take care of our family, which is great. But once you hit an age where they don't really need you so much or they're living on their own, it becomes your time to pursue whatever it is that you wanted to pursue, which is really important because even if you're semi retired or retired, you still need to have purpose and meaning. Those are top factors of happiness. You might look at purpose and meaning differently. It doesn't have to be about money or title or status or power anymore. It might be about volunteering. It might be how you change with friends and family or your community or how you give back. It's just thinking about this question. How can I make this world a better place? Because that's what happens. Once we hit midlife and up, what we care about becomes more about the world. When we were younger, teens, tweens, young adulthood, it's not that we don't care about other people, but we're a little more self absorbed because we're trying to figure out our own life. But once we get older, we start worrying about the rest of the world, and we start thinking, how can I make this world a better place? How can I give back? How can I serve? And that starts shifting. So instead of thinking about, what's my purpose and passion and thinking it has to be this big thing, ask yourself this question. What is your caring? What do you care about? What sparks your interest? What piques your interest? Right? What brings you excitement? What could you talk about for hours and hours even if you hate speaking? What is something you would advocate for for free? You just wanna do it. And can you use any of your gifts or strengths to help that? You know, I have a client who's semi retired, and she realized that what she did for a living is great, but that's not her caring anymore. What's her caring is animals. She has four cats, a few dogs, fish. I don't know what else she has, and she just wants to make the animals have a better life. And she started volunteering in the Catskills. That's upstate New York because I'm in the New York area and started a side business where she helps people to live vegan lifestyles because that's what's important to her. She's a vegan. And she shifted, and she's not worried about the money. She just wants to help and make an impact, which is important too because as we get older, we want to live our legacy. Most of us think about what would our legacy be. Right? How do we wanna be remembered? You don't have to just think of it that way. Think about, am I living my legacy? If I wanna be remembered as somebody who's animal friendly, who made a difference in the animal world like my client, then absolutely, she's going in that direction. She'll lead that impact, but she's living it currently. So thinking about for you, how can you make the world a better place using your gifts, your strengths, what you care about, and putting it out there. Again, doesn't matter about your title, the power it brings you, the status, or how much money. So I'm making a difference in the world, whether it's the whole world or just your community or your family and friends. Either way. That's what it turns into so you have more of a time. But remember this, what meant a lot to you in twenties and thirties, which made you pick your career, it's not always what you feel in your forties, fifties, sixties, and so on because we're always changing and growing. Sometimes it is and you become a consultant or you teach it. That's great too. Other times, you totally shift. You know, my client who went into the vegan and helping animals, she worked in the music business for thirty years in marketing. Two totally different sides, but she's using her marketing gifts that she learned, that she went to school for, what she used for thirty years to help all of these nonprofits with the newsletter and marketing and being at the events. So you can take your gifts and shift. But making sure you always have an intrinsic purpose, a purpose that gives you a feeling of excitement that's something you truly love, that you want to really help and make an impact. The next thing is as we get older or even no matter what your age is now, it doesn't matter, socialization is one of the top factors of happiness. And I really want you to think about this when we think about socialization. It's an umbrella term. So there's three areas that fall underneath it. First one is support system, which we talked about, that unconditional support. The second part is fun. And really what you wanna ask yourself is, how do you cultivate happiness? Because, again, what cultivated happiness last year might not be the same for you this year. It's really spending your time going, what does cultivate happiness? And for a lot of us, what has happened is once we started getting into life where we're taking care of others, our own kids, our spouse, our parents, making sure our job is done, we kinda forget what makes us happy. So sometimes you gotta dive in and ask yourself, you know, what really brings me happiness? And it's very individual. What makes me happy might not make you happy. For me, it's very simple. My dog and chocolate, and I'm pretty good. You might be a cat person and a glass of wine. You know, everybody's different, but asking yourself, how do I cultivate happiness, and am I doing it? So when you know what cultivates happiness in your life, are you scheduling it into your life? Sometimes we don't do that. And the last part is community, which is really important because community, whether you get it at senior living or where you live, whether you get it with a book club or sport or a PTA, doesn't matter. The community is where we feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, which is very important because the two emotional basic needs we need to have are acceptance and belonging. And when we're part of a community where we feel like there's people who are similar to us, who understand us, that we have a lot in common, that's what gives us that belonging and acceptance. It also, with community, gives us the support system we're looking for. Right? If you're part of a community, maybe it's a religious or spiritual community or, like I said, you're you've downsized, you're living in senior living, that community takes care of each other when something goes wrong and we need help. It's also the biggest way to kind of combat loneliness because we talk about the epidemic for aging, which is loneliness. Right? And loneliness and isolation are top factors of depression outside of mental illness, which is why we source such a big, you know, mental health shift during COVID. People were so lonely and isolated. So you wanna make sure that you are having that community wherever you get it from. And the other piece with this is we want positive relationships. So socialization means, yes, trying to socialize, and, of course, virtual is great. It's a great option when the weather is not good, all winter, rain, or you don't feel good or your car is broken, you can't drive, but we still need in person. So try to get as much in person as well and bounce it off with a little virtual, but we need positive relationships, and this is why. So we have negative people and toxic people, but just know this, moods and emotions are contagious. So when you're thinking about the handful of people you spend the most time with, friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, whoever it is, right, thinking about those people. Ask yourself, are these people negative or toxic? Negative is kind of like your negative Nancy, your Debbie Downer. Right? The person who sees the glass half empty, the pessimist, and pessimists now call themselves realists, so the realists, but if you have one or two of those negative people in your circle, not that big of a deal. Even though they're negative and they see the glass half empty, they still have big hearts. The relationship is reciprocal, and you might just have to say to them, let's go have fun, or, hey. I really need you to listen, and they'll do it. But if your whole circle is negative, then you wanna ask yourself why. Now there could be a few reasons. Sometimes it is you are the pessimist, and you can make that choice. Do I wanna be a pessimist? Do I wanna be happier? And just so you know, everybody has the ability to be happier. It's your choice, though. Is it that you're going through a bad time? Life's a roller coaster ride. Right? Up and down. Sometimes it's gonna be great. Sometimes it's gonna be not so good. Right? That's the norm. And maybe you're in a time of your life where a lot of stuff has happened and you're feeling negative. So you you find yourself more attracted to the negative or more comfortable there at the moment. Wasn't where you were last year, and it's not where you wanna be next year, but it's where you are now. Or are you the positive person you think or the people pleaser who thinks you're gonna go into this group and lift them up? If you do feel that way, just so you know, negativity is way stronger than positivity, and it's because we all have what's called a negative bias. Everybody has it. It's genetic. And that negative bias tends to have us lean towards the negative, get stuck in the negative. So negative's really stronger. So they will bring you down before they lift you up. And what you wanna think of is if you're in a group surrounded by all of that, you have to ask yourself, are you a people pleaser? Because the people pleaser is the person, so even to the detriment of their own health, make sure everybody else is happy, makes everybody else a priority, puts themselves on the bottom of the priority list if if they even do, never has self care, has a hard time setting boundaries of saying no, self care, asking for help, and those people end up very stressed, angry, and resentful. So really make sure. Now if you're surrounded by a toxic person, which is different than your negative, something to really consider because toxic people affect your health. Remember, some of the biggest stressors in life are people. And, again, we wanna reduce our stress as we age or manage it well. So if you have a toxic person now a toxic person looks like this, and I'm gonna give a generalization, but a toxic person is, one, the person who is extremely selfish and self absorbed, not self care. That's completely different. Selfish self absorbed is they only care about themselves. Everything they do is about them. They don't even think about the other person. They don't have empathy. That's the first. The second is they're very controlling, perfectionist, very judgmental, insulting, critical. And the hard part with them, if it's a newer person, somebody you just started dating or somebody you just met, you're really charming at first. Very charming. And then they kinda suck you in, and then they start becoming very controlling and judgmental and unrealistic expectations and putting you down. So that's another one. Third is they're always surrounded by a ton of drama and chaos. Like, follows them wherever they go. And the last one is they're a victim. They're always a victim, so nothing is ever their fault. So if you're expecting an apology from them, you might as well just forget about it. Because the truth is for someone to give you a genuine apology, they have to be aware of what they did wrong. They have to take accountability and responsibility for what they have done. But if they're always the victim, they can't take that responsibility or accountability. So you never get a genuine apology. Might get one of these like, well, sorry you feel that way, but I had nothing to do with it. So be mindful of that. Now a toxic person will affect you instantly, but what's toxic for me might not be toxic for you. So, again, you can use this mind body connection. Where do you hold stress on your body? And if you're around somebody who's toxic for you, you will feel it instantly. If it's your stomach, it'll start right away. They'll give you a headache. You'll feel the tension in your neck, your shoulders, your back, or your jaw from grinding it. Pay attention to those mind body connection because that is a sign. If you can break up with a toxic person, you suggest it. If you can't or it's family or you choose not to, then it's all about having boundaries, healthy boundaries that work for you and also setting up a lot of time limitations because that's the only way to have a healthy relationship to begin with. And as we age, we wanna have more positive relationships. We wanna reduce our stress. So I'm gonna skip through this just for a sec to get to the positive emotions because I'm running out of time, but this is my favorite, and I'll wrap it up on this. So positive emotions. We have negative emotions and positive emotions. Negative emotions, as we talked about, stress, anxiety, anger, fear, worry. I hate to call them negative per se because the truth is they're natural and normal. We need to feel them to heal, but they're more negative. They're more intense. On the other side, we have positive emotions, joy or happiness, love, gratitude, kindness, inspiration, hope, right, there's a whole bunch of them. But this is how much stronger negativity is to positivity. We need three, yes, three negative emotions to balance out one positive. So what I want you to think of is looking at a daily diet. Right? Remember back in the day we had that, pyramid from the FDA? You needed this much fruits, this much veggies, dairy, milk, you know, all of that to be physically healthy. For us to be emotionally healthy, we need to have a daily diet or daily dose of positive emotions. Now what happens is when we get that daily diet of positive emotions, we can live up to seven years longer, healthier, and happier. Also, again, we can balance out the negative emotions. So you wanna think about how can I get as much positive emotions in my day? It's much simpler than you think. So in the morning, when you wake up, I bet most of you make your bed. Well, at least some of you do. Right? It's a military activity. But if we make our bed, which takes thirty seconds to a minute, we get the two positive emotions of pride and accomplishment just for making our bed. If you get up and you get dressed, even if you're staying home, just change your clothing. That will give you more pride and accomplishment. So right there, you get it just for making your bed and getting dressed. At the end of your day, I tell my clients to do this all the time, do gratitude. Gratitude is a superpower because it's a positive emotion, so it gives you the boost of happiness, but it's also a form of mindfulness, which is the only natural way to destress. So at the end of the day, before you go to bed, you can write it, say it out loud, you can say it in your head, but just ask yourself, what are one or two things or two to three things that I'm grateful for that happened today. Looking through your day for those little gifts, blessings, and miracles. It could be the smallest. But just by doing that every day, you're getting gratitude. So now we have pride and accomplishment and gratitude. If you could do one more, which is just doing a random act of kindness, which could be anything from saying hi to somebody, a smile, holding the door open, giving a compliment, sending a text or an email, or calling somebody just saying you appreciate them and thank them for being such a great friend or whatever it is, you got a random act of kindness. You paid it forward. Every time you do random act of kindness, not only do I get the boost of happiness, but the person or people I did it for get a boost of happiness. So it's a win win on both sides. The other thing is it boosts your self esteem. So and here is in the positive psychology science. If you do gratitude once a day and random act of kindness once a day for a month, people raise their happiness levels by thirty percent. That's and it's free and easy. If you learn something new, right, you get interesting curiosity just by learning something new. Whatever it is, you can watch a TED talk, read a book, learn a you know, do something on a video where you get a free video you're learning something, take a class. Whatever it is, you learn something new, you get that interest, you get that curiosity. The same if you step outside your comfort zone, you get that interesting curiosity. It's right there. You got five or six positive emotions. If you show love or and, again, you get positive emotions by giving or receiving, telling someone you love them, giving them a hug, holding hands, putting your arm around them. All of that is love. Right? So there's so many different ways, and here's just a bonus. Every time you smile, you hug, you hold hands, you spoon, you cuddle, you get a boost of endorphins. And endorphins is the chemical that makes us feel good, the pleasure chemical that also reduces chronic pain. So get as many positive emotions during your day as you can get. And, again, I'm just giving you a broad range, but there's so many more, and that'll make a big difference for you. Alright. So I don't wanna keep babbling to you because as you can tell, I I will. It's about five to one, so I wanna open the floor for any q and a. So I'm going to stop sharing. And I just want to say thank you everybody for being here, Melissa for hosting for us at Arbor, and see if anybody has any questions, thoughts, or comments.

This is a very good time for all of you to get those questions into Diane. We put the instructions in the chat box. And, Diane, just to let you know, everybody has stayed. Everybody who entered, to watch us, to to view this webinar has stuck around to the very end. So, hopefully, that means some of you have questions. We did have a couple of comments from, JP Smith. JP says, let your group know my secret to life is this, cause stress, don't suffer from it. You know? Not not a bad, not a bad way to be, I guess. And then JP did ask, are the slides going to be available?

So I'm just gonna can I type an answer on any of these?

Yes. But the answers won't show up to future, viewers of the, webinar on the backside.

Okay. So they're recording it. So I assume the recording will go out, but I will put my email up here for anybody who's on it. If you do wanna copy just the PowerPoint, if that's better than the recording, that's my email. I'm sending it on q and a. So, you can see it. It's just DL counseling twenty fourteen at g mail, and I can send you any slides as well. So Yeah. DL counseling twenty fourteen at Gmail. I want to put on the chat, but our chat is closed, so I couldn't do it. Understood.

Okay. So, one more thing, because, again, people will be watching this on the back end. Can you just spell that out phonetically so that somebody can write that all down so that they don't miss a single, letter, which could change where that email's going?

Sure. You were able to send it to everybody. I can't do that on my chat. It's not allowing me. Can I send it to you, Melissa, and you can put it up there?

Yes. But for those who are watching who won't get to see the chat on the back end, they'll just get to see you and I on the screen here.

I'm just gonna put it up here so you can put it. So my email again is d l, my initials, Diane Lang, counseling, c o u n s e l i n g, twenty fourteen at g mail dot com.

Perfect. Awesome. Okay. So, JP, we hope that that answers your questions. Thanks for being a part of the chat. Jennifer says, what if I have no family at all and live alone, no kids, no partner, and no husband?

So when you don't have that support system, this is when you really want to rely on community. And we can friends can become family, which happens to a lot of us, but you really wanna think about what's your community and where do you want to get community. So what interests you? So community can be again, it could be a certain sport. It could be a class, like an art class or a group. It could be a hiking group. You can get community if you live in a community of senior living like Arbor. You can join a community center or senior center depending on your age, but but it's really about branching out. And there's also, on the Internet called Meetup, m e e t, up, u p, dot com, which is not a dating website. Don't wanna confuse the two. It is a site that you can go to find activities. People go like, I had a friend who always wanted to do Sunday brunch, and some of us just don't have the availability. I have clients on Sunday, so I can't do it. She joined our meetup and started doing Sunday brunch once a month with this group. I had another client who wanted to do bike riding, and he didn't wanna do it alone. He formed the group on Meetup. So you can form your own group, or you can actually join one, whatever works best for you. You do wanna reach out and get community. If that's a hard thing, you find yourself introverted, you could do virtual communities like this, which might be a little easier, or you do wanna think about doing something professional, maybe speaking with a counselor to gain a little bit of confidence to get out there. And also remember community religious or spiritual as well too. Churches and temples are wonderful communities as well.

Yes. Great options there. Anonymous asks, my spouse has Alzheimer's. Any advice? Hardest time of my life. Wishing she was like she used to be. I miss her.

Absolutely. And what I'm sorry, I know how tough this can be. Working with brain injury, no matter what their ages, they all have the same signs of dementia and Alzheimer's. They could be twenty, and it's it's really tough on the spouses and the family. So the first thing is self care. Make sure you're taking care of yourself because you have a spouse or a family member with any illness or injury or Alzheimer's, you become the caregiver. And it's very easy to have caregiver burnout or compassion fatigue. So make sure you're taking care of yourself. And what self care is for you, first, making sure your basic needs are met, you're getting enough sleep, your diet looks good, you're drinking enough water, not caffeine water, and you're getting exercise, whatever that looks like for you. Also, make sure you have that support system. Really important. And there are groups for caregivers. So if you'd rather a group approach, that might be one way, or, of course, counseling or anything individual. That's up to you, but you need to make sure you have self care and a support system with this. The other part is you need to grieve who they were. You're grieving. And that's really something that we forget about with all the time is dementia. Your relationship has changed. Your spouse has changed. So you're grieving what was. And if you don't give yourself that time to process that and grieve, you're never going to get to the healing process. And it's gonna continually change because Alzheimer's, you know, it progresses with age as they go. So you wanna make sure that you start the grieving process. And there's no time limitation on how long it takes, just at least starting that. And you could also do some meditations that are called loving kindness meditations. They're for compassion. And, again, a lot of times you're really good at giving compassion to others, but not really good at self compassion. So making sure that you do take care of yourself, and you can go on YouTube, or there is a great, what's the name, app that's completely free called Insight Timer. So it's I n s I g h t, Insight Timer, t i m e r. And it has one of the biggest libraries of meditation, stories, music that's very calming and meditative, and that could be helped, you know, helpful as well. So I I hope that, you know, you can do some of these things and do some mindfulness to help yourself de stress, whether it's exercise, meditation, writing, whatever you choose.

Yeah. And many groups available, out there, with spouses in the same situation as you that, as Diane said, could, you could befriend and learn from and just know that you're not alone. So, and I think that's the most important thing you're not going through it alone. JP does say thank you, Diane. We all say thank you, as we wind the webinar down and bring it to a close. Just wanna remind everybody that the email you used to RSVP for today's webinar will be the email that we will send this very webinar to you. A link to that email address, with this webinar for Diane and you can share it with your friends. You can watch it again, share it with family members. Just watch it again in the slides. As we mentioned, we'll be a part of the webinar that you will see in the email that we send out tomorrow. Diane, as always, thank you so much for being here with us. I really, you know, it doesn't matter the age. We're all learning. Right? And even myself, I was, taking down notes, and I love the part that you said about continuing to challenge yourself because it it truly does give us a reason to get out of bed every morning and, keeps your mind sharp and depending on what you're doing, keeps your body sharp as well. And we all know those things are so important as we age. So thanks for for for bringing that home and bringing it full circle to us who may know it, but maybe just aren't doing it. And maybe this will be the the catalyst to to get everybody up and moving, in the right direction. So, again, thank you for the time.

And thank you all for being here. Thank you for hosting. And, yeah, I think we all need a reminder including myself. So I hope everybody has a happy spring and enjoys the rest of their week, and thank you for being here.

Yes. And thank you. Diane, come back anytime. If you enjoyed this webinar with Diane, she has a couple more on our website. It's w w w dot senior living live dot com. There, you can find all kinds of videos about senior living. They're available anytime you wanna watch them, and they are all free. Thank you so much for being a part of senior living live. Have a great day, everybody. Bye, everybody.