Most of us try to live well. We know that small changes to habits, social connections, eating patterns and exercise regimens can, over the long term, yield a happier, more meaningful life.
In my practice as a Certified Senior Advisor, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with thousands and thousands of people on “the other side of 50.” This collective experience has lead me to the realization that there are only two types of people:
The Living Engaged and the Walking Dead. Not quite Zombies, but pretty darn close. Let me explain. When I speak with my tribe of Medicare clients and those who check in daily for help and answers, I’m always struck by the vitality (or the lack thereof) in each person with whom I speak. People in their 80’s and early 90’s are engaged, vital and still savoring life on this side of the great divide. They inspire and help me to do by my best, to be my best and to help others.
Others, in their 60’s, are disengaged, discontent and have little of positive value to share. We all know people who are trapped. They sap the life from our bones. We do our best with these people and we choose to spend as little time with them as possible.
The Japanese have a wonderful expression for these Zombies, the burned out or disengaged who have no zest for life, “Sodai Gomi,” translated as “large garbage.”
When I start getting grumpy and unappreciative, my wife reminds me to drink some coffee, to get to work, to go do something.
Life isn’t fair. Some folks are prettier, smarter, luckier. But Victor Frankel, the concentration camp survivor wrote in “Man’s Search For Meaning” that life is about having goals and missions greater than ourselves. It isn’t about happiness.
Happiness is the byproduct of a well lived life, a life of service to others and to things greater than ourselves.
It’s ok to get a stuck, it’s ok to be depressed, it’s ok to be grouchy… but it ain’t ok to live there.
So, when you feel life’s darkness and the Zombie Malaise setting in, acknowledge it and immediately fill someone else’s cup with love:
- Write a note to someone you love.
- Encourage a friend.
- Hold the door for a stranger.
- Apologize for being an idiot.
- Love on an animal.
- Smile at a good memory.
- Laugh with reckless abandon.
Today, don’t be a Zombie.