Column 17-Apathy and Aging – Getting the Vitality Back in our Lives

So off to the dog groomer we go, with friends in tow. We had made a spa date for our dogs and while they were being shampooed and clipped we were spending time together. As four friends who live two hours apart we cherish every hour we have together, because the weekend passes way too quickly. We walked, we ate, we chatted, we geo-cached and we planned our next day. Our general lack of apathy – which is a big word that really means a general lack of interest, or indifference to things – was squashed low and we were motivated to enjoy the day.
Other days do not go so well and apathy may take hold of you. It seems that life may not be so interesting, even happy events might not bring the joy they should and getting together with others may seem more like work than fun. On those days nothing seems to get done and our motivation to do much of anything is low. Sadly, for some people these types of days may become more and more frequent; there are times when we have forgotten who we are and what makes us happy. These are the times we need to deeply think about what is important to us and what would truly bring us a feeling of vitality. Once this is figured out we need to set a goal, a small, achievable goal and work toward reaching it. Perhaps not reached on the first try, the next day is a new day to try again.
The step of figuring out what is important to us is much harder than it sounds. For many people it has been others’ expectations that provided the goals that were worked toward. Once there is time for us to focus on ourselves, it can be hard to do because we are so used to achieving things for other people. What gives us those moments when we can forget about everything else and just enjoy the moment? Is it a good book, tea with a friend, writing poems or stories, a walk in the woods, reminiscing with pictures or stories? When we discover, or rediscover, what brings us joy and bring more of it to our lives, apathy can be replaced with enthusiasm for the people, events and activities in our lives.
Another aspect of reducing apathy is understanding more about how everything is connected. We are responsible for our actions but also for our inactions. When I think of this I think of elections, particularly after our last provincial election. When I was thinking of apathy I could not help but think of the people who have shared with me that they cannot be bothered to vote. This is the same thought that must go through people’s minds when they feel it is not worth donating just a small amount to a charity. But that is simply not true; every small amount, every small step, and every vote – counts.
When I was a manager at a company about 20 years ago I asked employees to consider donating 25 cents from each pay for a fundraiser we were taking part in. That may not seem like much, however, having 50 employees agreeing to this will raise $325 in one year. So you see, it’s not only the big steps that can make a difference, it is the little steps too that are important. Sometimes I find a visit to a book store, or the library can help motivate me with just the sheer amount of interesting ideas shared from the titles. Also, a frozen yogurt, or another sweet treat can bring motivation and a moment of joy – and it’s even better shared with a friend.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut, however there is no need to stay there. If you feel you cannot help yourself and you are feeling alone, please reach out to your health care professional or contact Mental Health Services, Moncton at (506) 859-8114 to find out what help is available to you.
Your vitality is inside of you, just waiting to be set free.

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