Welcome to Living Well, a column that explores ways we can all live better, smarter, healthier, and happier lives. As Cabot Creamery’s Consumer Lifestyle Commentator, I look forward to hearing from you; write and tell me about your ideas for Living Well. Candace Karu
There is a saying that living well is the best revenge, and I guess I have to agree. Though I’m not plotting revenge on anyone in particular, living well makes attending college reunions or chance encounters with ex-husbands much, much easier. Living well can describe a state of health or a state of mind; it can be fixed or fleeting. Living well is a destination, the ultimate port of call.
It is a concept generally ignored by the very young. Much like toned skin and the ability to dance until dawn, living well was something I took for granted until sometime around my 40th birthday. After that I realized it takes thought, planning, and effort to enjoy a well-lived life. It takes paying attention to diet and exercise; it takes self-examination and improvement; it takes cultivating friends, nurturing family, and expanding horizons. Living well can be downright exhausting – but it is invariably worth the effort.
Those of us over 40 – whether we’re called the Greatest Generation, Silver Foxes, or Baby Boomers (maybe we should be known as Great Silver Boomers) – managed to elevate living well to an art form. Like most of my friends in pursuit of the well-lived life, I did what it took – I ate healthy foods. I worked out. I traveled the country, and I traveled the world. I cared for children and aging parents. Revenge was mine, but it lacked satisfaction.
And then, sometime last October, everything changed. In the grip of economic turmoil that still shakes the country and the most intriguing presidential election of our era, the world was in flux. The only certainty was uncertainty.
Like many of my peers, I started to think about what living well means in light of current world events. What I’ve discovered is that wellness in times of challenge and change can be a very tricky thing. It is difficult to know what to do, how to move forward, when the world is in flux. I understood that tomorrow will look very different than yesterday, but I’m not really sure how. And so I asked myself: What does living well mean in the face of adversity and turmoil?
I believe that now, more than ever, living well means caring for others as diligently as I care for myself. It is still important that I eat healthy foods and stay fit but it is just as important that I work so others have that same opportunity. Learning about the world through travel is still an essential part of a well-lived life, but so is reaching out to people struggling to meet their own most basic needs. The fulfillment of caring for my family will only be enhanced when I find ways of helping others do the same.
Living well means living at the highest level – of experience, of knowledge, and of health. But unless we are willing to support others in the pursuit of the well-lived life, our own lives will be forever diminished.
If there is grace in aging, it resides most profoundly in memory and wisdom. We will draw from the well of our experience as we navigate this uncertain landscape. This hard won wisdom will help us find new and better ways for living in the 21st century and allow us to help others along the way.
The farmers who own Cabot believe that living well is about treasuring family, loving the work you do, and caring for community.