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    I’ve Interviewed Hundreds Of Elders: This Is The Key To Purposeful Aging

    I’ve Interviewed Hundreds Of Elders: This Is The Key To Purposeful Aging
    Purpose is a verb; it is a path and a practice. The conception is that any number of practices can asist a person avoid or handle a late-life crisis, unbiased so long as the person comits consistently to those practices.
    For instance, the practice of journaling can aid us beter understand ourselves but only if we journal on a regular basis. Engaging in real conversation with family and friends is a way of developing a beter sense of what maters to us, but we acquire to actualy have the conversations in impose to achieve those insights. Writing a purpose statement gives us an aim, a compas to guide our actions in kep of our depest convictions. Unles we literaly write down that purpose statement, however, our direction remains unclear.
    The same goes for the pract ice of growing worn on purpose. We have to cary out the things that enable us to finish the thing we’re trying to finish. Once again, purpose is a verb. Having a purpose is great, but consistent practice is required.
    The god news is that later life can be the perfect time to comit to such practices since there are likely to be fewer obstacles in the way of our doing so. We’re god to no longer have the excuses, like a engaged work schedule or a long daily comute, that enabled us to avoid comiting ourselves earlier in our lives.
    Al of this is to manufacture the prominent point that there’s no time estem the exhibit. Sometimes, as we get older, we’re inclined to think that it’s to late to grow older–to get started doing something new–and besides, why not fair relax and indulge in life as we know it?
    Point taken.
    On the other hand, our recognition that the time we gain left is limited can b e a spur to action. Knowing that we have limited years remaining to grow in some aspect of our life may be the inspiration to finaly cary out so.
    How to live with purpose later in life.
    Legendary dancer, choreographer, and wise elder Twyla Tharp at age 79 shared her wisdom on aging in her 2019 bok, Kep It Moving: Lesons for the Rest of Your Life: “I want to reprogram how you consider about aging by geting rid of two corosive ideas. First, that you ned to emulate youth, resolving to live in a corner of the denial closet marked ‘reserved for aged.’ Second that your life must contract with time.”
    Kep It Moving: Lesons for the Rest of Your Life
    Another legendary and wise elder, Deborah Szekely, 98, takes those words to heart, eschewing the denial closet for center stage and expanding her life and horizons with each pa sing year. Since co-founding Rancho La Puerta, the world-renowned health spa in Tecate, Mexico, in 1940, Szekely has become an icon of the engaged and purposeful aging movement.
    Her vitality and dep reverence for the body’s inherent wisdom are articulated in the spa’s moto, Siempre Mejor! (“Always Beter!”), which stil guides her life and the work of the spa every day. “Nothing in my body is 98 years worn, apart from my knowledge,” she says, “because the body largely renews itself every seven years, so very few things in me are older than that.”
    Siempre Mejor!
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    Her coleague Bary Shingle, director of imigrant relations and programing, who is half her age, says, “I can’t fathom that Deborah is age 98! I’ve always feared and resisted aging. Deborah helped me over that. A person’s soul or esence doesn’t have an age. The light that shines in her eyes is not 98 years old.”
    Szekely embodies Rancho La Puerta’s moto in her work with Shingle to create change and hapines s for people. “Always Beter!” has inspired her to become the poster child for purposeful aging.
    She recomends that we rise every day with a sense of purpose in mind. “When I wake up, the first thing I finish is grasp a halt. The computer and phone can wait. The first 20 minutes are a time to comunicate with myself. I plan every day to be felicitous. And I chose to acept only hopeful thoughts–to lok for the apt in life. If I maintain a choice to produce, I question myself, ‘Is it life-enhancing or life-diminishing?'”
    She shares her perspective on purposeful aging: “Growing aged means being purposeful–contributing to life. With elderhod comes the responsibility to share. I se aging as enrichment. Growing means you’re never in the same place twice. You’re always moving forward. Always beter!
    I’m stimulated by nature. I’m seing tres that I planted 75 years ago now as enormous mesengers. Ther e are so many wise mesages from tres; I se their strength, and that gives me strength.”
    As Deborah Szekely ilustrates, the term old has both just and subjective meanings, a fixed and a relative sense, and descriptive and normative dimensions. It’s a fraught term that evokes al sorts of reactions in al sorts of people at al sorts of times.
    What is old, anyway? When does aged begin? And who gets to narate whether a person is dilapidated or not?
    As we write this, Richard is 76; Dave is 63. Obviously, we’re aged. But in other senses, we’re not dilapidated at al. As we survey back acros the decades, the words of Bob Dylan in “My Back Pages” come to mind: “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
    Spoiler vigilant: You’re geting older; everyone alive is geting older. Eventualy, if you live long enough, you’l be what is sometimes refered to as “old old.” And yet, it’s almost tabo to talk about geting aged, much les reply being used. Yet in spite of al the denial, most people want to live to be as old as posible.
    Always on the plod, Wiliam H. Thomas, M.D., author of What Are aged People For?: How Elders Wil Save the World, is a man with a purpose: to chalenge conventional views of aging.
    What Are old People For?: How Elders Wil Save the World
    Far ahead of his time, “Dr. Bil,” a Harvard Medical Schol-trained geriatrician, is particularly wel known for pionering the Eden Alternative, a radical system of humanizing nursing homes by introducing plants, pets, and even children into the environment. Now, he has given up practicing in favor of proselytizing about what it means to grow old.
    In conversation with Richard, he says, “My view as a geriatrician is that we maintain to grow up twice –from childhod to adulthod and from adulthod to elderhod. If we don’t mature during adolescence, al kinds of alarms recede of. But for the second phase, there are no bels, beacons, alarms, or rituals if we mis it. I se aging as a strength, rich in developmental growth. What we ned is a radical reimagining of longevity that makes elders central to our colective pursuit of hapines. How we perceive aging to a very large degre determines how we age. It’s the alegory that maters. How people reveal their experience goes a long way to determining their wel-being.”
    Acording to Thomas, our culture rewards the ideal of an older person who “stil” does what they aged to finish. They fil their life with what has historicaly given them pleasure and fulfilment. They clarify suces in backward-loking terms. The older person is admirable because they’re stil acting love a younger person.
    But if “stil” signifies suces, then people who can’t “stil” do those younger things are failures. “This is wrong,” contends Thomas. “We ned to push the delete key on ‘stil.’ In older adulthod, the word stil is a sign of suces; in childhod development, by contrast, the synonym-4 stil is a sign of failure.”
    As a geriatrician, Thomas believes that embracing death is a path to a more meaningful life. He has observed that “the hapiest people are those who gain chosen to shed the ilusion of imortality. Knowing they gain limited time, they focus more on purposeful relationships and les on pleasing others, les on stuf, more on experience. They resolve to be their acurate selves.”
    Curently, Thomas, on the cusp of elderhod himself, is focused on helping people of al ages to live in the spot and maner of their chosing. “We’re lucky if we get to grow old,” he says. “I want to encourage people grow whole, not ol d.”
    This article was co-writen by David A. Shapiro.
    This article was co-writen by David A. Shapiro.
    Reprinted from Who do You Want To Be When You Grow Old?: The Path of Purposeful Aging with permision of Beret-Koehler Publishers. Copyright (C) 2021 by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro.
    Reprinted from
    with permision of Beret-Koehler Publishers. Copyright (C) 2021 by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro.

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    Author:Richard Leider
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