This week we’ll stay on the subject of maintaining personal health by focusing on the mind. Along with physical exercise, mental exercise is critical to keeping our overall health excellent so that we can live a longer and higher quality life. This doesn’t mean that funeral planning and all of its factors, from probate and estate planning, to determining funeral costs, evaluating the value of burial insurance or funeral insurance, and even learning how to deal with grief and depression are not important. Rather, it means that good health will make us stronger and much more able to deal effectively with these and other tasks and challenges that life brings our way. Each of them are important when the time comes, and whatever we can do physically and mentally to be better fit for them will be of great benefit.
Doing what we can to maintain mental fitness is every bit as important as the physical side. One without the other leads to a partial existence, yet when combined together our capacity for accomplishment increases many fold. Maintaining full functionality and alertness of mind is a never ending workout. Mental exercise is a major force for a positive attitude and the provision of a long and meaningful life. It also makes a person better able to cope with problems and thereby avoid issues such as serious bouts with grief and depression in those times when your life might be in turmoil. Additionally, it helps to ward off the incursion of negative thoughts.
My dear departed mother had a little saying that she used on me constantly when I was a boy. It was simply this, “An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop”. Some of you who are older like me may have heard it and it pretty well expressed her expectations that my daily life should be busy.
Mom was a very old fashioned girl and in those days children were expected to be busy. School, chores, play and homework were all part of the daily routine, something which sadly is missing today with many young people. The components of the day kept me well rounded and fit and by the end of each day I was tired and ready for bed. Television was not part of the weekly schedule unless it was a special treat and it was at an early hour.
Mom spent most of her life being very active and this included her constant efforts to maintain her mental alertness even as she aged. She maintained hand and eye coordination knitting quilts and making doll clothes for the local medical auxiliary charity drives. Her work was always a hit and sold out quickly. It’s too bad that we children didn’t appreciate her delicate handiwork as they would be collector’s items today.
She also loved crossword puzzles and I can remember her earnestly checking with her handy dictionary as she worked on them. Her acuity was also seen when we had play a family game of Scrabble and her talent was formidable. She just giggled as she won hands down.
Only when her physical pain from debilitating arthritis finally limited her physical mobility in her last years of life did her mental skills start to diminish. By that time she wasn’t reading and working with words as much and watched more television. The passivity of television in place of the active interface with the visual word took its toll and was markedly noted with the onset of dementia. She died about two years later at the age of ninety-one.
I mention my mother’s situation to show just how important keeping the mind active is to good mental health and vitality. Reading, writing, playing mind games and other such exercises are truly good for maintaining sound capacity. And these things are also enjoyable and allow us to continue a useful life even when we become frail physically. I even knew of an elderly blind man who despite his handicap continued writing actively in braille. He even kept copious notes from radio programs as a means of practice.
We can’t stop the process of aging entirely, but we certainly can impede it and thereby allow for a longer span of active life than we might experience otherwise. So the next time your find yourself in a situation facing grief and depression, get busy. Write that letter that you’ve been putting off, read a good book or write that book that you’ve always wanted to do. It will enhance you and make the world look so much better. And it will certainly fill that void where the idle mind opens you to negative factors. Stay positive, use your mind productively and you will be richly rewarded by your results.
Until next time, have a wonderful week, God bless you and God bless America.
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