As a 7 year old we lived next door to an old man. We called him “Old Man McKane.” Just saying his name struck terror in our hearts? Why? Because he was the meanest man we had ever met. If we were unfortunate enough to hit a baseball in his yard you knew the ball would never be seen again. He would scream and holler and stomp his feet. He was Old Man McKane.
He represented my first exposure to people who get bitter as they age instead of sweeter. But he wasn’t the last. I’m amazed at the number of people I come into contact who, through the decades, morph into a version of Old Man McKane.
This isn’t true of every old person! Many older folk get sweeter as the years go by. And if they get pushed into the corner and squeezed, sweetness comes out instead of vile bitterness.
What factors determine whether you turn sweet or bitter as the years go by? To answer this question I did a little reading to see how fruit on the tree become sweet. One article talked about “The Science of Sweetness.” While reading it I realized the science which applied to fruit also applied to people.
Here’s 5 ways to become sweeter instead of bitter as you age.
First, the fruit tree must be planted in the right soil.
It’s going to be difficult to get sweet fruit out of a tree planted in the wrong soil environment. Fruit trees produce sweeter fruit best if in the right kind of soil.
If you find yourself turning bitter instead of sweeter maybe you’ve planted yourself in the wrong environment. Is it time to think about getting a new job? The people at work are eating away at you. Or maybe it’s time to physically relocate. Are the winters wearing you down? Ask yourself if you have planted yourself in an environment which is making you sweeter. If the answer is “no” then it’s time to consider a change.
Second, the fruit tree must be fertilized.
Fruit trees, like most plants, need to be fertilized. The science which makes this true is beyond me. But the farmer needs to examine the trees and determine what is lacking and then make sure the tree gets what it needs.
What’s lacking in your life which might be causing you to turn bitter? Do you have enough loving relationships in your life where you love and are loved in return? As the years go by we’ve often become disillusioned by people who we loved but hurt us. If we aren’t careful we cut people off until there are few people with whom we receive and give love. Maybe you need to work to reestablish loving relationships with your family and friends.
Third, the fruit tree must be pruned.
Dead branches must be cut. Unruly limbs which threaten the life of other limbs and the health of the tree must be lopped off.
A tree doesn’t wince with pain at pruning but people feel the pain. When we are pruned and some of our branches are lopped off we cry at the pain and radiate anger.
When we feel loss in our lives we can choose to become bitter over the loss or choose to believe it will somehow make us sweeter. How many times have you gone through difficult circumstances only to look back years later and see it made you a better person? When you feel the pain of being pruned choose to believe it will make you a better person.
Fourth, the fruit tree must be thinned of young fruit.
When the fruit is smaller and still on the tree, up to 70% of it is removed on purpose to allow the energy of the tree to concentrate on the remaining fruit. This surprised me. I had no idea the tree farmer on purpose destroyed some fruit while it was small to make the remaining fruit bigger and stronger.
Maybe one of the reasons people turn bitter as they get older is the challenge of an over crowded life. Too many things weighing down on the shoulders causes weariness and pain to set in. You start to carry the weight of past failures and hurts. There are financial concerns. Your kids and grandkids have made some mistakes and you feel responsible. It’s difficult to be sweet when you walk around with a load on your back.
Take some time to see what you are carrying which you can throw away. Get rid of grudges. Throw out the disappointments of the past. Stop carrying around what is not necessary.
Fifth, the fruit tree must receive the right amount of rain, sun, and heat.
On this last point the farmer is helpless. Excellent farmers can only do so much. There comes a time when the farmer must rely on Mother Nature to do her part. The sweetness of the crop is ultimately at the mercy of the rain, sun, and temperature.
Here we have a tremendous advantage over the farmer. We are not at the mercy of unknown forces. You can become proactive and provide the right amount of rain, sun, and heat in your life to produce sweetness. Take a vacation. Relax. Read motivational books which uplift you. Start walking which will raise endorphin levels. Get plenty of sunshine. Do something to improve your life.
When it comes right down to it happiness is a choice. I choose to become a sweet old person. And when I’m shoved into a corner I want sweetness to come out instead of bitterness.
Happiness as you age is a choice. It might take some hard work but you can do it. Choose the sweetness of happiness.
Which of these 5 elements do you need to work on?
Feel free to leave a comment below or join the conversation on my Facebook page by clicking HERE.