Not everyone ages gracefully. Some older people get selfish, cantankerous and even mean. They can become inverted and focus on security and health issues. When people are aging gracefully, however, they can represent the fullest flowering of the human species. Writing in the magazine “New Realities”, Dr. Paula Hardin shares the results of her study of what is happening in the minds, hearts and lives of those who are aging well.
Dr. Hardin has lots to say about those who are not making the passage well, of course. There is nothing magical that automatically happens as we age. But here we will focus on some of the characteristics of those who become more and more generative as they get older.
These “generators” often:
1) Have evolved a generous view of others and the world. This includes maintaining a forgiving stance towards human faults and inadequacies in themselves and others;
2) Have a giving attitude towards themselves and others. They tend to give more financially than most people;
3) Have formed a caring and positive relationship to nature;
4) Are still aware that they are growing in personal integration and self understanding;
5) Have often gone through a “defeat” in life that has humbled them and led to a “rebirth” on a higher level;
6) Have simplified their lives, and have taken time to reflect and to gain the insights needed to clear away the “clutter and confusion”. They have learned to set limits;
7) Have the courage to change both themselves and the conditions around them.;
8) Describe themselves as increasingly “spiritual”. They have learned how to trust “God” or some higher power and/or they trust life itself;
9) Are sought out by others for counsel, wisdom, perspective and creative insight;
10) Are committed to continued learning and spend considerable time exposing themselves to new ideas;
11) Are clearly engaged in caring behavior towards themselves and others;
12) Are people of hope. They believe in the future because they have lived long enough to see that dreams soften come true.
Of course, all of these positive qualities of the “healthy mature” are the same qualities that characterize a balanced individual of any age. One certainly does not have to be older to have any of these qualities, but it does seem that much of our growth as humans only occurs after lots of experiences and lots of lessons.
As a person in the final chapters of my life, I am aware of how quickly the years roll by. It is good to keep in mind that, while we are losing some of our physical strength, our minds and especially our hearts still have much to offer the world.
Next posting: Running from “God”
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