Broaden as You Shorten

February 2nd, 2024 by Kelly Kienzle

As I enter the back nine of my life, I am deeply focusing on how to age well.  I am focusing on not necessarily extending lifespan, but instead extending healthspan.

I love the idea of increasing my number of healthy years, instead of just any-old-type of years.  But how do I do that?

The River

Luckily, I came across this quote from the author, Bertrand Russell:

“Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.”

The Strategy

In other words, broaden as you shorten.  Expand your living as your life-years diminish.  This strategy can apply to physical, mental and emotional health.

I can broaden my range of physical activities to ensure I am working different muscles, building different types of cardio health and stretching in fresh ways.

I can broaden my mental activities by learning new ways of doing and being, such as recently learning how to write a book (in progress!), joining Instagram and reading about the origins of California’s generations-old drought problems.

And I can broaden my emotional world by releasing old stories about myself, practicing new areas of patience and acceptance, and finding different ways to connect with new people.

Simplicity

I cannot remember all of the myriad ways in which I am advised to live a healthy life.  We are given an impossibly long list of what we should be doing to maintain these bodies, minds and souls of ours.

But I can remember a simple phrase that seems to envelop all of that advice: Broaden as you shorten.  I can do that.

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