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There are few people who don’t want to stay young as long as possible. Most people don’t go to extremes like getting plastic surgery lifts for various parts of a sagging body. Most of us just want the energy of youth. Thus, it becomes a matter of feeling young, rather than looking young.

Just today a friend of mine came bouncing by me, wearing blue jeans and tee shirt and a smart little cap. She’s in her late 70s. No, she didn’t look 20, but she looked spritely and happy. She possesses a beautiful spirit. And she enjoys being spontaneous. Me too. I’ve found that spontaneity is a way to stay young.

Recall the story of the 19th century chap named Johnny Appleseed, who traveled across America planting apple seeds and trees? His name was John Chapman, a nurseryman and conservationist, who earned his nickname well by traveling 75,000 miles, planting spontaneously in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and northern West Virginia. It is written of him that he exuded kindness to everyone, everywhere he went. He enjoyed spontaneity.

When was the last time that you did something spur-of-the-moment? You enjoyed it didn’t you? I find that if my husband suggests we have a date when I don’t expect it that it’s even more fun than a planned date. These little surprise times always leave me feeling refreshed—and yes, younger. If a friend calls and says, “Let’s go thrift shopping this afternoon,” the young in me says, “Go for it!”


Yet there are other ways to be spontaneous, like spreading cheer, with the Johnny Appleseed mindset. Like him, be kind, smile at strangers. Actually tell someone how good their smile makes you feel. Or perhaps call a friend and say, “I want to take you out today to celebrate.” When they ask, “Celebrate what?” say, “I’ll tell you when we get there.” Then, when you get to where you’re going say, “I just wanted to celebrate our friendship.”

The poet, William Wordsworth lived up to his surname by writing words or worth. One of his wise expressions, “Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find,” makes me think of Johnny Appleseed, who knew his trees would give pleasure.

Our you can also be spontaneous by doing a simple thing like relaxing! Perhaps taking a long, leisurely soak in the bathtub, instead of a quick shower--and maybe reading that book you’ve been wanting to read at the same time. Doing things spontaneously is really taking time to enjoy life guilt-free, without feeling self-indulgent.

C. Robert Cloninger, M.D., the author of Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being says this about being spontaneous, “Being spontaneous shows that you’re not afraid to genuinely express who you are.”

Just like Johnny Appleseed expressed who he was with his apple-seed and tree planting across a good portion of the United States, you can spread spontaneity like fruitful seeds. It adds up to feeling and staying young.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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