Embracing the Joy of a Smaller Life


As a professional copywriter, I understand the allure of extreme adventures and distant travels. Scaling the ruins at Machu Picchu, skydiving strapped to a younger companion, and haggling for trinkets in bustling souks are all experiences that evoke excitement and wonder. However, I have come to realize that the joys of life can also be found in the simplicity of everyday existence.

The positive aging movement often celebrates the accomplishments of the “super-geezers” – those individuals who defy ageism and conquer daunting challenges. However, for many older people, physical limitations and financial constraints make such grand escapades implausible. Furthermore, not everyone shares the desire to partake in these exhilarating endeavors. Some of us find contentment and fulfillment in a quieter, more intimate life, particularly one that allows us to express our creativity.

It is unfortunate that society often undervalues the beauty and richness of a smaller life. There exists a misconception that a life lived on a smaller scale is inherently less interesting, less challenging, and less meaningful. However, from personal experience and the observations I have made throughout my career, I can confidently attest that this belief is far from accurate.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me an appreciation for the simpler things in life. Although we may not have had great wealth, I never felt lacking as a child. In fact, quite the opposite – I believed we had everything we needed. And now as an adult, I am certain that we really did have it all.

In conclusion, I want to emphasize that there is an abundance of joy to be found in leading a smaller life. It is a life filled with contentment, creativity, and meaningful connections. So while others embark on their daring adventures and exotic escapades, I will cheer them on from the sidelines, eagerly awaiting their tales of thrilling exploits. And in the meantime, I will continue to find solace and fulfillment in the simplicity of my own smaller, yet immensely satisfying, existence.

Plus: Living Comfortably on $1,200 a Month – Our Unexpected Retirement in Panama

A Lifelong Appreciation for the Smaller Life

I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the little things in life. From a young age, my mother would take me on weekly trips to the library, fostering my love for reading. My father, an artist, taught me how to draw, and he would often take us on adventures to the mountains or nearby towns with rich historical significance.

We made the most of our time in public parks and museums, immersing ourselves in nature and culture. I was constantly encouraged to learn and explore my creativity, whether it was through making music, drawing, or writing. I can honestly say that I never experienced boredom during those formative years. Every corner of my neighborhood, my home, and my mind held exciting new adventures.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in the simplicity of life. I find solace in leisurely walks through the neighborhood park and the nearby botanical gardens. A trip to a local museum never fails to ignite my imagination and curiosity. And with access to online libraries, I am never short of reading material to stimulate my mind.

Living in Los Angeles has its perks too. Within a manageable distance by car, I can experience the vibrant cultures of our diverse neighborhoods, sampling different cuisines and immersing myself in unique traditions. The creative spirit within me still burns bright, as I continue to make art, write, and occasionally indulge in music by sitting at my keyboard.

In my part-time role as a social media manager for the nonprofit organization EngAGE, Inc., I have the privilege of witnessing the incredible adventures taking place right here in our own backyard. We work tirelessly to bring inspiring programs in arts, wellness, and lifelong learning to older residents in affordable, independent living communities. Our goal is to create intergenerational connections and provide enriching experiences, all conveniently located on-site and at no cost.

I feel incredibly fortunate that the joys and wonder I discovered in my youth continue to shape my perspective and bring fulfillment to my life. It’s a testament to the power of embracing the smaller things in life, as they often hold the greatest value.

Embracing New Experiences: Defying Ageism One Step at a Time

A Wealth of Opportunities

In a world where hang gliding may be perceived as the ultimate test of limits for older individuals, our residents challenge themselves in a different way. They stand before a classroom, heart pounding, and proudly recite their newly written poetry. They pick up a paintbrush for the first time, exploring the world of art. They bravely take the stage as actors or singers in a chorus. This takes courage, but it’s also incredibly enjoyable.

From learning English to trying their hand at dancing or playing a musical instrument, our residents pursue intellectual growth, even when far away from their homelands. Delving into crafts or exploring cooking classes that showcase food from diverse cultures further stretches their horizons. We also have fitness enthusiasts, dedicated gardeners, and compassionate mentors supporting local children in neighborhood schools.

These opportunities not only bring personal satisfaction and growth but also foster friendships and a sense of belonging within the community. In a society plagued by the epidemic of elder loneliness, this is no small victory.

Battling Ageism: Shattering Unrealistic Expectations

Society often expects older people to constantly prove their worth by pushing themselves beyond their limits, attempting to keep up with the capabilities of younger individuals. While competitive pressure exists across all age groups, it can be particularly damaging for older adults. Unrealistic goals are set, leaving many feeling “less than” in a world that already tends to undermine their value. Regrettably, society uses this perceived failure to reinforce ageist assumptions.

Let’s embrace new experiences, break down barriers, and showcase the incredible talents and resilience of older adults. Together, we can defy ageism and create a more inclusive and compassionate society.

Embracing a Smaller Life

When it comes to individual life experiences, it’s an inevitable reality that even the most active person will eventually slow down. It is important to acknowledge and accept this fact. If we aren’t already living a smaller life, we must be willing to adapt when it becomes necessary. While some may perceive this as a sacrifice, it is more beneficial and accurate to view it as a change of focus.

Embracing Change During the Pandemic

The pandemic has forced many people to change their perspective and adjust to a smaller life. In doing so, they have experienced a complete reevaluation of their previous lifestyle choices. To their surprise, they found themselves making significant adjustments and developing an appreciation for their new, scaled-down lives.

The Richness of a Smaller Life

Regardless of age, living a smaller life can provide us with rich experiences, exciting opportunities, and meaningful rewards. The victories we achieve in this smaller life may not make headlines, but they are just as deserving of celebration. Whether it’s nurturing an herb garden on a windowsill, mastering a chain stitch for an embroidery project, or successfully conquering intimidating photo editing software, these moments are worthy of recognition.

Continual Learning and Engagement

Take the leap and embrace the possibilities of a smaller life—where limitations transform into opportunities for growth and fulfillment.

Also see: How a poverty mind-set can ruin your retirement

Read: ‘It’s just a nice place for an old guy to go, I guess’: Men’s Sheds offer camaraderie and connection

The Power of Embracing a Smaller Life

In the pursuit of positive aging, one secret stands out: embracing a smaller life. Contrary to popular belief, a smaller life can actually keep us youthful, without the need for exceptional stamina or a high tolerance for risk. Surprisingly, it all comes down to the mindset.

Remaining young and vibrant requires nothing more than approaching life with the open, inquisitive mind of a child. And the best part? You don’t even have to leave your chair to cultivate this mindset.

Embracing Joys in a Smaller Life

Let’s take a peek at what’s currently on my calendar, providing joy and fulfillment in my own creative, smaller life:

  1. Artistic Exploration: I look forward to visiting a museum hosting its annual show, an event that I always make sure not to miss. The display of creativity and inspiration never fails to leave me in awe.

  2. Nature’s Beauty: Walking through a botanical garden during cherry blossom season is an experience that fills me with wonder. The abundance of delicate pink flowers provides a breathtaking escape from the busy world around me.

  3. Unleashing Creativity: Capturing the process of my latest drawing project on video is an exciting endeavor. Sharing my unique artistic style and technique gives me a sense of achievement and allows others to appreciate the beauty of the creative process.

Finding Fulfillment in Every Stage of Life

At 75 years old, I can confidently say that I wholeheartedly enjoy my smaller life filled with meaningful experiences. The key is to cultivate creativity and curiosity, allowing them to guide us towards fulfillment and happiness.

Cynthia Friedlob, the talented creator of the interactive journal In Praise of the Smaller Life, brings a wealth of experience to the table. With a background as a writer for renowned animated children’s television shows and decades of exhibiting her art, Cynthia has a deep understanding of the joys that a smaller life can bring.

Let us remember that age should never limit our zest for life. By embracing a smaller life, we can unlock the fountain of youth and discover endless possibilities for happiness and contentment.

More from Next Avenue:

  • Sketching the City
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  • Acting Let Me Step Outside My Comfort Zone
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