“Old” Dogs Can Learn New Tricks.
How Lessons From Our Furry Friends Can Ease and Enliven Our Transition to Elderhood When we’re young, we never think it will happen to us. Sure, on some level, we know it’s inevitable, but it’s too far away to be real. And then, it happens! We realize that yes, somehow, someway, we have ascended the crest of the proverbial midlife hill and are transitioning to being seniors! When my wife Amy turned sixty, this realization hit us (I will join her in a few months) smack in the face like a well-timed pie! (We’re still licking off the coconut cream!)
Now that our spring-chicken days are behind us, we’re more grateful than ever for our experience in the awesome MEA Online Transitions course dedicated to transforming how we look at aging and increasing our “TQ” (Transitional Quotient). Over the past eight weeks, with the expert help of Chip and his team, Amy and I have rebranded our 60th year. We’re now seeing the transition of becoming seniors as a celebratory transition to regaining the excitement and enthusiasm we had as high school seniors!
“But wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “Celebration, excitement, and enthusiasm about getting older?! Gimme a break!” This is exactly how the MEA Transitions course helped transform us. Rather than viewing aging as something to be dreaded or resisted, it gives us ground to recognize that this season of our lives is beautiful, deeply significant, and brimming with possibilities. While our bodies may be a little less spry, our spirits can be more alive than ever.
By investing in deeper connections, redefining what happiness means to us, and actively engaging with life with the same zest for growth and discovery we had in high school, we can come to realize that a new spring may be hidden within our autumn season.
Amy is especially embracing this new spin on her life by planning to be held back to enjoy her “senior year” in high school for decades to come. She’s hosting more dinner parties with friends (no keggers yet!), donning earbuds and listening (and laughing) at all hours to funny podcasts, and breathing in the natural beauty all around us.
The principles of the MEA Transitions Course — Connection, Happiness, Engagement, and Chi (the vital force) — have both deep scientific and contemplative roots. We are applying these principles and translating them into holistic actions to optimize the transition to elderhood. The excellent work and research about “Blue Zones” (clusters of vital super-seniors worldwide), Radical Remission (from cancer), positive psychology, and so forth are all examples of how the potential of the human spirit need not diminish with age.
Essentially, this approach is to humans what the Happiness Protocol is to pets. (I developed the Happiness Protocol to teach pet parents how to enrich their companion animals’ lives and create the conditions for them to experience “flow” states that optimize function.) For Amy and me, recognizing the parallels between these two models has made it even easier to shed common myths about growing old and face the future with increased vigor and enhanced well-being.
As a holistic veterinarian, my pet patients teach me daily about the transition into my senior years. With the Happiness Protocol, senior pets can retain the freedom and flexibility that is the hallmark of health and vitality normally associated only with young animals. (Not just into their teens, but also into their twenties, and even beyond this!) It’s easy to improve senior animals’ Chi and vitality by focusing on Connection, Happiness, and Engagement. Now it’s our turn!
Unlike people, pets don’t carry around cognitive “baggage” about growing old. They don’t compare their senior selves to their younger selves, or find themselves lacking in any way. They are simply present in the moment, content to focus on the things that make them feel connected, happy, and engaged. By following their lead, we can learn valuable lessons about our own bodies, minds, and spirits, easing and enlivening the transition to this beautiful and exciting time of our lives!
Old dogs can and do learn new tricks, and when it comes to how we think about aging, the example of our furry friends can guide us into a new and even better future!
Here’s to the adventure of Elderhood!
MEA Online's next course begins June 05th. Use code MEA222 during checkout for $75 off. Click here to learn more.
Jeff Feinman is a research-oriented molecular biologist and certified veterinary homeopath teaching pet parents strategies to help improve their companion animal’s quality of life. He’s also a MEAO alum.