Looking Forward with Helen

You always have to have something to look forward to. –Helen Howland

Of the many people that could have said this (a psychologist or other therapist, a teacher of the Law of Attraction, a concentration camp survivor or a motivational speaker), it was centenarian Helen Howland.

Centenarians are ritually asked what their secret to longevity is and I have read many answers, and Helen’s is the most convincing to me. It is true that growing older comes with serious challenges, the worst possibly being losing your family members and best friends. How do centenarians get past that? Other challenges include losing mobility and senses, serious and chronic diseases, slowing brain functions and reduced sexual response. So, what is there to look forward to? That is a question each of us must answer for ourselves if we are to get through the challenges of aging.

On a more immediate basis, looking forward to something each and every day is something we can practice now. It is an important aspect of living fully now. What is it you look forward to? Is it fairly immediate and deeply fulfilling? Helen’s advice was that we always need something to look forward to. That means now and today.

We need something to look forward to or we lose our way. Yes, we can look forward to eternal life in heaven (after our bodies betray life, which is not something to look forward to) or we can look forward to a long life of growing wise and more aware, BUT we need something to look forward to that is fairly immediate and deeply fulfilling. Otherwise, the long-term promise can fail to inspire us through the challenges of aging.

I recommend that each day begin with a clear perspective, using all the senses at our disposal, of those things that are deeply fulfilling and will be part of our future. It may be posted as a written or graphic plan, a visual collage “dream board” or a highly engaging mediation. It might include sex, dance, food, laughter, applause, music, family, achievements, décor, clothing, time on the beach or whatever it is that you find deeply satisfying.

Never lose touch with that. Not for a day, whether working, playing or on vacation. Vacation time allows more time to refine and build that realistic dream. Make it active. Think of ways to make it happen sooner than later. Protect it. Live as many parts of it as possible in the present. Don’t hold back… it is living fully now that is at stake.

“You always have to have something to look forward to.”

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