I read an interesting cover story recently about Baby Boomers (those born from 1946-1964.)

It seems that more and more boomers are running, cycling, swimming, boot camping -- doing just about anything that will keep them fit, outdoors and among friends.

As we boomers age, we seem to be placing much more emphasis on our physical health than our parents did. That is largely due to the fact that our parents lived a lifestyle which was much less sedentary than ours. Their very way of life kept them physically fit.

Because life expectancies continue to get longer, they are now saying age 60 for the boomers is the new 40.

When I approached retirement age, I found myself struggling to keep up a routine of walking two miles every day. When I considered my late father walking two miles just for the sake of walking, I had to laugh. At age 70, he was fit, trim and as solid as a rock.

Maintaining our physical health should certainly be one of our top priorities if we are to continue to be happy and productive. But it is important that we address our mental health as well.

I shall never forget an old preacher who used to visit the church where I grew up at revival time. When called upon to pray, he would say, as a part of his prayer, "And Lord, I want to thank you that I woke up this morning and put my feet on the floor in a sound mind."

Certainly, a sound mind is something for which we should be grateful, and a subject we might do well to give more thought.

The great Dr. William Menninger -- founder of the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas -- gave us a fine definition of a sound mind, or mental health.

He said, in essence, "Let us define mental health as the adjustment of human beings to the world and to each other with a maximum of efficiency and happiness."

Dr. Menninger went on to say, "It is the ability to maintain an even temper, an alert intelligence, socially-considerate behavior, and a happy disposition."

The late Earl Nightingale wrote, "As we grow up, these four sides of our personalities should also develop, so that, ideally, we become totally mature people. But what actually happens (and it's much easier to see it in another person than in ourselves) is that we usually grow up in some areas of our life and stay childish in others ... we tend to grow up lop-sided."

I have given these four areas considerable thought over the years.

Maintaining an even temper is not an easy task.

Someone once said, "It is better to have a cool head and a heart on fire than to be a cold-hearted, hot-head."

Anger, if not carefully managed, can destroy relationships and even impact one's physical health. It has a way of eating away at one's personality. A marvelous rule of thumb comes from the bood book, "Let not the sun go down on your wrath."

A well-placed, "I'm sorry," can sometimes work wonders.

In order to enjoy an alert intelligence, we must continue to challenge our minds. My late grandmother, Lena Brim, enjoyed a sharp mind well into her 90s. She constantly stimulated her brain by working crossword puzzles.

There are millions of pathways in the human brain. When they stop being used, they stop being usable.

The subject of socially-considerate behavior baffles me most. Why can't we be kind and considerate to other people? Have we become so obsessed with me that we have no room for others? I firmly believe that most mental illness can be traced to me-i-tis.

I have often wondered how one acquires a happy disposition. Our oldest son, J. Brim, was a happy baby. Today, all things considered, he has a happy disposition as an adult.

He has a 9-year-old daughter, our first grandchild. Her name is Oakley Madison. She has her father's disposition. I call her a grinner. She grins at everyone.

Our second son, Jonathan, was an unhappy baby. He cried if you looked at him. He was a whiner and a complainer, a blamer and ... a gagger. Even toothpaste made him gag.

He has a 6-year-old daughter named Lena Kate. Sometimes, he sees himself in her. I tell him that patience is its own reward.

But somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, Jonathan turned a corner. Today, he enjoys an upbeat and happy disposition. He worked hard to get there.

Our son, Joseph, has an 8-year-old named Elizabeth Jane. She seems to take the ebb and flow of life with an easy stride. No one has taught her that. She just arrived on the earth that way.

Many years ago, a 100 year-old man was a guest on the Johnny Carson Show. As he talked with his host, the old gentleman laughed easily and was a general cut-up.

"You seem to be a very happy person," Mr. Carson observed. "What is the secret to your happiness?"

"Well, I figure when I get up in the morning, I have two choices," the old gentleman said. "I can be happy, or I can be unhappy. I simply choose to be happy."

I believe that maintaining our mental health, like happiness, is a choice. But after we make our choice, there remains much work to be done.

Copyright 2019 by Jack McCall