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12 Nov 2021
SOURCE: CPF Board
What does it mean to flourish in life? Is it living a good and fulfilling life, a life with a sense of purpose? Or is it the ability to do what you want and be who you want? Regardless of what it means to you, it will make you feel good about yourself every day. And this feeling can carry through even in your golden years.
This may sound like a tall order for us, but it is possible to rise up to the challenge! Think of yourself as a budding superhero who is learning to fly. How, you might ask? Why, with a CAPE - Challenges, Activities, Pursuits and Engagements, of course!
C – Challenging your mind and body
Don’t attempt to leap out of the window with your CAPE just yet! Challenges are often viewed as unwanted obstacles in life and it’s not something that we look forward to. Like acquiring a new skill or language, the challenge is always about overcoming the initial hurdles of learning. Nothing comes easy, so let’s see how we can better prepare you for the challenges ahead.
Let's start with the mind. You can do that by approaching everyday issues with a new perspective! Let's say you want to sharpen your kitchen knife but have no sharpening stone at home. Your first thought may be to buy a new knife as that is the easiest solution. But it's not the only answer. In fact, you can sharpen your knife using the unglazed ring on the bottom of ceramic bowls or mugs that are readily available in your kitchen!
The next time you run into a problem, don’t just go for the first solution that comes to mind. Instead, do try to think of alternative solutions and test them out! Over time, this habit will help train your mind to be more flexible and be more receptive of different options available to you.
Next, let’s talk about the body. Interestingly, challenging one's body can be as simple as walking. You may be scratching your head and wondering, how is that a 'challenge'? Well, there are many different levels of intensity in walking, and you can make yourself stronger by setting simple daily goals to increase the level of difficulty.
For example, when you first start this challenge, you can set a goal of walking ten minutes a day. You can gradually lengthen the time and the distance that you cover. Before you know it, you will be able to take long hikes around the island effortlessly.
Challenges help people emerge stronger and the mind and body are needed to help navigate the challenges in your life journey. Gladys So, Senior counsellor from the Tsao Foundation (pictured below), a non-profit foundation promoting active ageing, advised that growing your self-confidence is a critical first step in dealing with changes in life and to tackle any challenges.
Your self-confidence can grow over time using these tips:
i. Be open to know yourself better, understand and use your resources effectively. To “hear” your own thoughts and welcome change.
ii. Stay connected to what is important – such as our relationships or aspirations.
iii. Be willing to take risks, accept mistakes and changes that are part and parcel of growth and learning. Stay the course, be committed to your goals and overcoming obstacles along the way.
When you are confident, you will not subscribe to self-limiting beliefs. For example, old age does not automatically mean that you will fall sick or be lonely. You can take control of your health and keep chronic diseases such as diabetes at bay by staying active and healthy. You can continue making new friends, satisfying our curiosity or sense of adventure, to connect with nature, try new activities such as volunteering and add life to our years, not just years to our life.
A – Activities that excite you
Do you remember that as a little kid, the thought of an upcoming family vacation or school camps often leaves you waiting with bated breath? You often can’t wait for the next day to arrive.
As adulthood beckons, it seems a lot harder to make time for activities that excite us due to pressing day-to-day demands. But that should not be the case. Scheduling something fun or important for yourself is not just for enjoyment. It helps you stay motivated because you have something to look forward to. Don’t just take it from us, let’s hear from the pros!
Cycling Without Age (CWA) is a charity organisation that aims to inspire hope and make a positive impact on the lives of the seniors in Singapore. It started in Denmark in 2016, and besides cycling, it also carries the noble goal to connect seniors with the younger generations, believing that everyone has a purpose in life and can be an active member of the community they live in.
But why cycling? Miss Pam Rolink, Programme Manager of CWA’s Singapore branch (pictured below), shared that with age, the risk of both chronic diseases and social isolation increase and people can experience mobility challenges. Cycling is a fun way for people with the same interest to get together and build relationships.
CWA’s choice of transport for reaching out to the community is the good old trishaw. The trishaws have a comfortable seat attached to the bicycle and they are used to ferry the beneficiaries with limited mobility. Beneficiaries have enjoyed the scenery in Singapore's most beautiful parks and be part of the larger community through these rides. Passengers and riders found themselves positively impacted as they exchange life stories with each other and grew closer together in the process. Many beneficiaries feel more connected to the community and are happier!
If you’re curious to learn more about Cycling Without Age, worry not! Keep on reading and we’ll have a little surprise at the end for you!
P – Pursuits
Next up, keeping meaningful pursuits at your core. Meaningful pursuits can come in many forms, but whatever your chosen pursuit(s) may be, it is important to always keep it close to you, to always acknowledge and be driven by it.
But beyond helping you achieve said pursuits, keeping them close to you also serves another purpose: it helps to mould you into a more resilient person, capable of standing strong against adversities. And this is backed up by psychology! Miss Bernice Lim, Founder and Principal Psychologist of the Asia Psychology Centre (pictured below), helps to shed some light on the matter.
“Sharing from my personal experience, there are 2 different personal pursuits I try to engage in – one to keep me grounded, and the other for self-care. For the first pursuit, I volunteer my time, providing pro-bono therapy to a group of underprivileged adults, some of whom have been through trauma and are struggling with mental afflictions. I started out my journey as a mental healthcare practitioner in social services. In offering my skills to the community, I feel like I am giving back to the same places that helped me grow into the psychologist that I am today. Working with clients and patients across a diverse demographic helps keep me grounded while maintaining a balanced perspective as a practitioner, which I believe to be critical in helping me stay resilient in a field where burnout rates are spiking.
My second pursuit revolves around self-care, which is another critical factor in helping me keep resilient when work in my clinic gets stressful; I like to create simple pieces of jewellery using crystals and wires. The simplicity in being able to use my hands to craft pretty bits and bobs is therapy to me. Between my wire cutters and needle-nosed pliers, I am able to retreat into a safe place where I am able to re-charge for the day.”
Life will always throw some obstacles along our way. But it’s up to us to find the means and mindset to keep standing, to stay strong against the current. Keeping meaningful pursuits at your core will not stop the obstacles from coming but can certainly help you develop a mindset that helps you overcome them.
E – Engagements
So what makes an engagement meaningful? Simply put, it should make the parties involved feel fulfilled, happy and satisfied. An important thing that is in diminishing supply in the world right now is self-care. Taking time for an engagement with yourself by breaking away from professional and social commitments is important. It is not only a great way to unwind, but it will refresh and prepare you for the challenges ahead.
Meaningful engagements with others through simple acts of kindness, like helping out your neighbours, saying hello when passing each other at the lifts and so on can brighten someone’s day - and give them a bit of positive energy to carry on with their tasks. It may sound like a small thing, but the small things can have a big impact! If you desire to have more of such meaningful engagements with others, you may want to consider volunteering. Giving your time to others not only brightens days but will help you form meaningful connections with others!
Mr Goh Yong Piou (pictured below) is someone who puts that notion into action. As a mentor with RSVP Singapore, he does volunteer work with places such as Yishun Primary School and AMKFSC. To him, seeing the students there smile and participate in the activities makes it all worthwhile.
Mr Goh views this as a way of giving back to society and to remain active socially and mentally. He believes that it is good to fill our days with meaningful engagements to occupy us and wishes that more people will volunteer their time for others. After all, there are so many different areas to volunteer in, so there will surely be something for everyone.
And there you have it: your very own CAPE to help you flourish in life! If any of the points mentioned here has struck your fancy, or if you wanted to hear more from the experts who have shared in this article, you’ll be glad to know that you can! The CPFB’s inaugural “Ready for Life” Digital Festival will bring these experts together to share how you can discover your passion in life. Do sign up for free and take this opportunity to get inspired and have some fun at the same time through the various webinars and online workshops!