Up to a certain point in our lives, getting older seems like a pretty good deal. We gain freedom, independence from our families, the ability to succeed (or fail) on our own merits. Life is full of adventures and challenges we had no access to when we were young. As we move into our 30s, we have more responsibilities but also more dimensions of joy and pleasure in our lives. Love relationships, committed partnerships, the joy and heartbreak of raising children, and moving through educational goals and into work and potentially meaningful careers. Some of us even embrace the adventures of world travel, risky sports and other high energy projects because we are old enough to do them and young enough that we still have the energy, drive and fearlessness to make it happen.
A few successes and failures down the road, we begin to reassess. Sometimes we complete the projects that were so consuming during our young adult and middle adult years. Our children are launched, our career accomplishments accrue and sometimes our drive to do more starts to lessen. We break a couple of bones or wear out a couple of body parts (like knees and shoulders) and perhaps we decide that ultra-risky sports aren’t really that appealing anymore. For most of us, in one sense or another, life slows down and takes new directions.
Those of us who have moved into or through our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond know all too well the difficulties and problems associated with aging. For some of us, our health stays good and allows us to maintain rather active lifestyles. For others, illnesses and injuries start to take a greater toll and we become much more limited in our choice of lifestyle and activities.
Of equal, if unrecognized importance, aging also comes with significant benefits. So, what are the benefits associated with aging apart from senior discounts at the movies and $10.00 lifetime passes to the National Parks? Some of these benefits and advantages are small, trivial, even silly, but others are major, significant and fulfilling. Among these benefits, we might include retirement, time to focus on neglected interests, maturity (whatever that is!) and if we are lucky, wisdom. Let’s brainstorm together about the benefits of getting older.
- What are some of the small, silly, even trivial benefits of getting older? Are there some benefits of aging that you didn’t expect or perhaps didn’t even know about?
- What have been some of the more meaningful and substantial benefits of becoming older in your own life? What have you gained, either materially, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually that you would not want to part with?
- Are there positive things about getting older or reaching certain decades that you are looking forward to? Are there things you see other older people having in their lives that you would really like for yourself?
- To what extent do these benefits compensate for or off-set losses related to aging?