One of the most profound findings about Living 55+ is that many of the symptoms of mind and body deterioration are more a function of lifestyle than biological aging.
The outcome – needless declines in the quality of life.
One of the consequences of our fast-changing world is that it pushes us out of our psychological comfort zone, which can lead to anxiety, stress or withdrawal.
But thriving and flourishing in a changing world means getting in tune to the context. You don’t have to figure everything out. Thriving and flourishing is about having meaningful experiences or fulfilling outcomes with things that matter –to you!
That’s the heavy stuff! Here are a couple of stories to illustrate how this can play out in real life.
Two acquaintances of mind started phasing into retirement over the past six months. Both were eager to pursue their passion for photography. Tony is frustrated while George is flourishing.
Tony has an artistic flare and technically understands photography from the camera to printing, framing and even hanging photos so they shine as art. In the past Tony was able to place some of his photos in local coffee shops and occasionally sell a few prints. He was looking forward to getting better at it and finding more opportunities to exhibit his work. Selling is a bonus: the achievement and recognition was his main motivation.
With more free time, he started going to a couple of local photography club. Rather than finding friendly associates who might help him advance his art form he felt like and outsider. He saw some amazing photography but remarked that these guys were playing in a totally different world. He arrived with a sampling of his best prints. They showed up with computers and were discussing digital techniques, virtual galleries and social networks. Although Tony has a digital camera and uploads his images to a computer he is totally out of touch with the “interrelated conditions” that contribute to and make photography meaningful today. In his words, “when it comes to photography today, I am a fish out of water and don’t know what to do about it. It seems that everything I was good at has lost value!”
George dabbled with photography while he was working full-time but now wants to “really get into it.” Armed with his new digital SLR camera, George is out and about snapping shots of people interacting in an urban environment. George says, “Now that I take the time to observe, I am seeing all sorts of interesting happenings that I want to capture in photos. Most of my images fall short of what my mind and eye saw but occasionlly I nail it and that’s rewarding.” He will tell you he is having a blast and learning everyday. He will proudly show you the website he built himself to display his online gallery. He will share stories of how he is interacting with other photographers online but quickly turns to ask you a question if you know anything about Twitter and Pinterest, and, most importantly, how he might use them too both learn and share his photos. George’s wife says, “He’s a happy man when he walks out the door with his camera or sits down at his computer.”
The take away message here is that by acting like George you have meaningful experiences, you build adaptive potential and optimism, and you unload the negatives impact on your body.
See Seizing a Rich and Extended Life for more information.