I don’t think of myself as old. I’m only seventy-one. Some may think that is old. Perhaps some would think that wisdom would come with that age. I don’t find that that is a given, but if I may, I would like to share one thing that I have learned in my lifetime.

Forgive.

That’s it. One word. One basic tenet to incorporate into your being.

To grow older with any sense of calm, hope and freedom, you must let go of all wrongs, perceived slights, hurtful feelings and the pain that they instill in you. You must release all things, all people, and yourself, from the bondage of jealousy, hatred, ill feelings and regrets.

These things eat at your very being. They twist and warp your mind and soul, and sometimes your body, into shapes that reflect not the good in this world, but the evil. And it is all self-inflicted. We look for the slight, the mean spirit, the undesirable in all we meet, and have met, and we are only diminished by that search.

We weaken ourselves by giving power to others. You must keep that power for our own benefit. Do not waste it on people and things over which you have no control. You cannot make other people into something they are not, but you can accept and understand them for what they are and release yourself from feelings which only harm you, not them.

We make choices in life. In our lifetimes there are people who are toxic for us. Holding onto that toxicity, even long after that person is gone from our lives, only poisons us. For those in our lives now, we need to choose to see the good in those people and let go of the bad. We don’t need to accept people into our lives who cause us harm. Forgive those people and let them go. Do not let them darken your life and exert a power over you that even they do not know they have.

Let.

It.

Go.

Want to know the most amazing, the most powerful form of forgiveness? Forgive yourself.

Let go of the regrets, the wrongs you have done, the people you have hurt, the negative things that you have made part of your very self. As we get older, those things can really start to pile up and threaten to bury us in regrets and self-loathing. To live a life worth living in our later years, we need to shed those feelings and keep them away.

It’s silly to give power to people you feel have done you wrong, but it’s even sillier to give power to the past, to the person you were but are no longer. The weight of that past will drag you down and keep you from moving forward with your life. Let. It. Go.

I know that this may be easier said than done. Indeed, I often find myself with regrets over my past, over things that I now think I should have done differently. Even though it is a cold, hard, fact that I will never be able to go back and right whatever wrongs I feel I committed, I still have major periods of regret. That is the work I must do now – forgive myself. I suggest you do the same, as well as releasing all the wrongs that others have done to you. It will make all the difference between growing older lightly and happily and slogging through your final years towing an unwelcome weight that does nothing but make you miserable.