A teenager is excited about eighth-grade graduation, shopping for a dress or making the basketball team. Everything he or she does is an exciting adventure. That's the stuff youth exudes. Their enthusiasm and curiosity are contagious. Enthusiasm and curiosity attract followers.
Becoming old isn't a result of years but the consequence of allowing your ability to laugh, look forward to adventures and think of others rather than yourself disappear. Remaining young means continuing to take an interest in what's going on, welcoming the new and constantly experiencing surprise and amazement.
Being with those who retain many interests, greet each new day like they've never lived it and eagerly anticipate each new dawn causes you to feel energetic. Such people signify renewal, giving us hope and vitality like a drink of cool fresh water.
Beauty is uplifting. Viewing awesome scenery, entering a store stocked with colorful, well-arranged merchandise, watching animals graze and listening to the sound of birds chirping gladden our hearts and lift our spirits.
The various bright colors featured on positive cartoon characters, in movies, videos and on the stage lighten the burdens of audiences. Surroundings that appear cheerful give people a boost -- one reason children's rooms and day cares are decorated so brightly. It's another means to add happiness to their day.
We think of Jesus. He was enthusiastic and curious. He interacted with human friends and felt their pain. He was curious about what went on as he walked about with his followers. Jesus was enthusiastic about preaching the good news that his Father wanted communicated. There was excitement and charisma in what he said and people were drawn to his enthusiasm. I doubt Jesus complained of boredom. He was far too busy being concerned about the welfare of those he saw and interacted with to think of himself.
Those who exude little joy in life or fail to be interested in anything are no pleasure to be around. Rather than contributing to your happiness and energy, when you leave their company you're drained of your own joy and strength.
I spoke with a man recently who said he and his wife now have an empty nest at their house. Their children are away at college. Although this situation frees up more time for them to indulge in new interests, the couple can scarcely wait to see their children when they come home to visit. It is truly awesome and wonderful to feel the rush of clean, crisp air you feel as you listen to youth. They're encountering new experiences as they begin their journey through life.
You can live vicariously through the young and relive their excitement at the goals that only they can experience. You absorb their need to be curious.
My mother lived into her nineties. Although her health deteriorated, she never lost her fervor for living. Her zest for what she may experience every day was breathtaking. Consequently, she never wanted for visitors. She said that she never felt lonely because she liked her own company. Nevertheless, she had the bright curious eyes of a child. She even seemed like a child inside, without shedding her wisdom. Her cheerfulness and humor could lift your spirits because she was hopeful and optimistic. She continued to be fresh, exciting and curious, believing that life was what you made of it.
Rather than assuming an aura of hopefulness, boredom and disinterest in life and what goes on around you, continue to be curious and enthusiastic. You will live longer and be a life giving force that invigorates others.
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.