The More I Age, the More I Like Who I've Become

Here are five practices that help me keep my shit together.

Don Johnson
Crow’s Feet

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

While waiting in the Dublin airport for my flight to NYC, I looked out the window and asked myself: Do I like the person I have become?

The answer floated down like a glider landing on an open field of green clover— Yep.

Next. Why, at 72 years of age, am I happy with how I've turned out?

I pondered this for an hour and concluded five practices contribute to who I am today.

Here they are.

I more readily accept what comes my way

I got in a taxi a few days ago and asked the driver how his day was going. He said, "Great. I'm always happy." I asked him why. He said, "Because I accept everything that happens to me as God's will." I said, "So, you don't resist things?" With a big smile, he said, "No, I don't."

I smiled too and thought, this notion of letting go and accepting is everywhere. It's not just Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, Mickey Singer, and every sage or saint talking about it. Taxi drivers know it, too.

The times I've been most miserable were when I resisted what was happening outside my control. The happiest times were when I was in the flow and accepted what was happening without whining, moaning, or getting frustrated.

As I age, I find it easier to grasp this notion of acceptance.

Instead of getting worked up by some inconvenience or discomfort, acceptance is more often my first stop. It could be the Universe's way of gradually preparing me for the big lift-off coming sooner or later.

I don't regret the past

On the surface, I could conclude that becoming a monk for ten years in my twenties was a colossal waste of time, particularly when I recently discovered that the guru I followed was a fraud.

However, I was quite happy during those years. I meditated several hours a day and was part of a loving community working towards world peace. I took from this decade-long adventure a rich meditation practice that I still deeply enjoy, dear friends, and skills like public speaking, running a business, and working in a team environment.

I've been through the ups and downs of marriage and divorce and swam in the shark-infested waters of corp America. I let my addictive personality get me into some dark holes that I'm not proud of.

But I did the necessary work and cleaned up most of my offensive demons, and I'm proud of where I am now.

Are there things I could have done differently in the past? Sure. But I did my best then and have no interest in wallowing in regret or bitterness.

Making peace with who I've been has been very liberating. I don't waste any psychic energy replaying the past. I show up whole, present and grounded every day. I feel like a set of just washed and dried bed linens — fresh and clean.

I put time and effort into caring for my inner world

I've been a meditator for fifty years now. It's helped me develop patience, become kinder, more considerate of others, more present, and less apt to distraction. I've learned to observe my thoughts and how to feed the good ones and let go of the negative ones.

I've also learned that meditation alone is not the sole ticket to peace and contentment. Without the mental, emotional, and psychological work, I wouldn't be where I am today. If we want wholeness and peace of mind, we've got to do it all.

Aging is an opportunity to bring life experience and the wisdom we've gained to the world around us, our friends, and our family.

It is also the ideal situation to nurture our inner world more. By the time we hit our 70s, we've had our shot at taking the world by the horns, raising children, building our careers, and making money.

We may have had fancy cars, big houses, extravagant vacations, and dinners at fine restaurants, but we know that lasting happiness isn't in any of those things.

We know the key is the health of our inner world. And when we read something like this quote below, something deep within us knows it's true.

Remember the clear light, The pure, clear white light. From which everything in the universe comes, To which everything in the universe returns; The original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature. It is home.

- The Tibetan Book Of The Dead

We're all on the way home — it's only a matter of time. We might as well get to know our inner home while alive because it is the oasis of peace.

I put out good energy

I'm not interested in polarizing, divisive conversations in which people argue their positions, opinions, and beliefs and forget about mutual underlying interests. I find it a colossal waste of time and energy.

I'm more interested in doing work that adds value and helps improve the lives of others, which is the main reason I started writing on Medium four years ago. My consulting work helps people, teams, and companies be more self-aware and effective. People love the tools I use, and my business keeps growing without me doing any marketing. Go figure.

I enjoy meeting new people, making connections, and engaging in generative conversations. Putting out good energy feels lovely, and people are attracted to it. It doesn't take that much — a smile, a kind word, and listening more than I speak.

Positive energy makes the world a better place.

I'm more patient, kind, and less of a dick

My father was a good man, but he was a type-A personality. The son of second-generation Swedish immigrants, he was out to prove to himself and the world that he could do better than his father.

I inherited much of his drive, enthusiasm, perfectionism, and "I'm not going to back down" mentality.

Until I retired from corporate America, I pushed the envelope to the edge. Whether it was work, playing tennis, or music, it didn't matter. I went all in, pushed myself to the limit, and never quit. Losing a tennis match made me nuts for hours. Deep insecurity? Perfectionistic disorder? Probably.

Eventually, I worked it out. Lots of therapy. Lots of meditation. Lots of just living and learning.

Aging helped, too.

When I was younger, I used to worry a lot about money and taking care of my kids. Those days are over. I won that war. They're good humans, and I'm proud of them.

Now, I know I have nothing to worry about. My last holotropic breath-work experience took me to a place where the Universe delivered a life-changing message: You have nothing to worry about. You are entirely taken care of.

I took it in, and since then, I have done my best every day to live that way.

Consequently, I'm more laid back, calmer, more peaceful, and less of a dick. Just ask my wife. She'll tell you that I have my moments, but 95% of the time, I have my shit together.

Yippee.

There you go.

No promises, but I bet if you embrace these practices, you'll be a very happy camper as you ripen.

I’ve got a book coming out this June, Living a Conscious Life: How to Find Peace, Wholeness, and Freedom in a Chaotic World. You can sign up here for more info.

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Don Johnson
Crow’s Feet

Author | Meditation Teacher | Advocate for Kindness, Respect & Freedom | Human Potential Coach | Connect with me here: www.bemoreconscious.com