In 1998, I saw an intriguing quotation in a department store window display. The window display was full of exercise equipment, and the quotation above it read: "Some people die at 20 but don't get buried until they are 65 to 70."
That caught my attention since recently I had visited two women in a retirement center who represented the pros and cons of that statement. Both were attractive-looking and well-educated, but the similarities stopped there. One was a positive, upbeat person who was a great conversationalist and interested in all current events. I left her feeling good about myself and the world.
The second woman was negative, unhappy and complaining about everything from the food at the center to the woman in the adjacent apartment. I left her feeling discouraged and drained of energy.
On further reflection, I realized life is so daily, so demanding and often so restrictive that it seems to squeeze every vestige of creativity from us. How then do we stay energized and hopeful? Four things will help us: choice, purpose, discipline and joy.
In her book, "Splashes of Joy in the Cesspools of Life," Barbara Johnson writes: "Pain is inevitable, but misery is a choice." So much of life is determined by our choices. We can't always choose what happens to us, but we can always choose our reactions to them.
Individually, we have to determine what our purpose is at each season of life and stay focused. There is no way we can do that without discipline. Following the holidays, most of us need to discipline our bodies through eating less and exercising more. Good results come not just from starting well but also from following through.
Also, we need to recapture joy. I believe that means remembering we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and that nothing can happen to us that we and God can't handle. So practice choice, purpose, discipline, and joy so we can "keep on kicking as long as we're ticking."
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.