When my children have difficulty falling sleep they have often tuned into Bob Ross, an icon in American artistry. I tried this one time and was so transfixed on his voice, his words, his presence—I didn’t find this treasure, Bob Ross, a sleep aid for me. I’m cognizant of my children’s demeanor when they talk of Ross. The level of positivity he had is contagious.
Growing old gracefully beats the alternative: like Ross, you can foster upbeat thinking by shining the light on the positives at every turn. He experienced noise in the military, vowing to never shout at anyone. Even when he was sick, he still sported his fabulous iconic perm. He did not dwell on his injury, losing part of his index finger as a young man, or his diagnoses of lymphoma. Repeating our sadness gives us temporary relief, but the payoff is short-lived, and we get stuck.
Ross tried at every step to practice optimism using certain steps and he enjoyed the happy consequences. “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents,” he said. That quiet verve he poised and pursued naturally is something the youngest of children to an aging adult can utilize finding power in softness and susceptibility.
We are all called to teach and we are strengthened by sharing what we know. The real work of our lives is to figure out our function, our part in the world and share it with our human community. If we are living in a bubble, we can thrive without anxiety, perhaps. When Ross would work on a landscape, he would consider the least of us. “This is where the little mountain goat lives, right up in here. He needs a place to call home, too, just like the rest of us.”
Like Ross, many confident people seem to have this sense of calmness. They are already over themselves and needn’t expend energy on costly facades. They don’t try to make people like them, they don’t pass judgment, they aren’t hypocrites and they are not stuck in despair.
We want to enjoy our lives and make progress, even amid difficult circumstances. We are all called, and we all have a contribution to make. No greater gift than to honor your calling. Releasing hurt for good gives us the influence, the power to be the best version of ourselves.
Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living. In her column, she shares observations and wisdom about aging and senior living in our community.