I have the pleasure of serving as a music therapist and entertainer at a local nursing home. Residents respond to music with a great deal of enthusiasm and happiness. When I look out into the audience I see a lot of smiles and happy faces. It's a vibrant pleasure to be able to make their lives a bit more joy filled.
During today's session, I met three residents who have touched my life in various ways. Vincent's nephew was one of my students when I was a young teacher; His sister in law, Maryanne, is that young man's mother; and another resident, Rena, is the mother of one of the most gifted students I've ever taught. All three are in their nineties and are still enjoying life to the fullest. So what are the conditions in their lives that have promoted longetivity and contentment in their senior years?
I've come up with five possible answers.
- All three remain connected to their families. Vincent, the gentleman, had at least fifteen family members with him today. As I peered out from behind the piano, I saw two hours worth of smiles, hugs, and laughter among family members. I played softly the whole time so they would have time to visit. They remained connected to each other in a loving way.
- All three have strong religious ties to the Catholic Church. I used to teach Vincent's nephew at a local Catholic College. Rena, her daughter and I, used to have conversations about religion and religious beliefs during the time I was teaching Teresa.
- Vincent, Rena, and Maryanne all smile at every possible opportunity. Having known them all over a period of about fifty years, I can attest to their abiding good humor and positive attitudes.
- All three have a deep love for music. Maryanne, at age ninety, still plays at a local nursing home every Thursday. Vincent knows just about every song ever written; and Rena smiles with pride when I mention her daughter's musical genious.
- They are all joiners. Vincent and Rena come to every happy hour and Maryanne volunteers in the community in various other venues.
Apparently all five characteristics are scientifically based. According to a study done on 246 offspring of centenarians, a low range of neuroticism and a high range of extraversion are two of the common factors of longetivity. Apparently, extraverts have an advantage in living a long healthy life because they tend to create more social bonds. Additional characteristics include a normal range of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness. Low neuroticism contributes to an ability to handle stressful situations and conscientiousness creates success and satisfaction in life. This study was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.
Having known Vincent, Maryanne, and Rena over quite a few years, I can safely say that they have all modeled agreeableness, extraversion, and conscientiousness throughout their long, productive lives.
They are all models of building lives of joy.
Vincent, Rena, and Maryanne are all models of extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. in their long productive lives. They serve to teach us all how to build a life of joy.