Lately, I've been finding lots of examples of people who manage to live full and vibrant lives regardless of circumstances. Stories of people with serious illnessness or injuries who refuse to allow the challenges or disabilities to define them. Randy Pausch of The Last Lecture fame is a prime example of someone who accepted his terminal condition with grace and humor and chose to live life to the fullest right up to the last moment.
I have been thinking a lot about what emotional tools these people have in common. So far I've recognized self-efficacy which basically means confidence in one's abilities. Resiliency is another one, which means the ability to adapt to change and face challenges. Optimism, the ability to look at the positive aspects of life regardless of circumstances, is another valuable tool. I think without self-efficacy or resiliency it would be impossible to be optimistic. Finally, each person I've read about demonstrates a high level of engagement in life. They are involved and connected with family and friends, are passionate about something, and/or have meaning and purpose afforded by a wide variety things.
These are the same tools demonstrated by people who age well. With them people are able to remain vital and active regardless of challenges. Without them people are vulnerable to the whims of time and circumstance. So here we are back to the concept of choosing to age well; understanding that we cannot always determine what challenges come our way but we can choose how we respond to them.