Living with my parents, who are in their seventies, makes me think often about aging.
What does it feel like to be in the second half of my life, instead of the first half?
How can I live today to the fullest, so I’m not living with regrets later?
What are the struggles that come with aging – for both ourselves and for our aging parents?
In this post, I want to introduce you to a book titled “A Delightful Little Book On Aging” by Stephanie Raffelock and my five most memorable takeaways.
In a world where we celebrate youth and dismiss the elderly, Stephanie’s book is a refreshing perspective that sheds a positive light to the whole concept of aging.
1 – Attitude Towards Aging is Our Choice
I hear too often comments like, ‘oh it’s too late for me’ or, ‘only if I did that when I was younger.’
And the most unfortunate thing is that these comments are coming from people in their 20s and 30s!
In any stage of our life we have the option to see the opportunity or live in regret.
Stephanie states in her book that:
“Getting older presents a clear and simple choice: you can resent what life takes from you and miss what life is presenting, or you can let go of what is past and embrace the gifts of the harvest.”
As we get older, it’s easy to constantly look at the past and celebrate what has already passed.
Lamenting on what could have been or should have been.
“Oh, I should have saved more money when I was younger.”
“Oh, I should have studied more when I was in college.”
We do this because it is much easier to mop about the past, rather than excitedly looking towards the future and doing something about it.
Doing something for the future requires work.
It’s ok to reflect on our past so we can learn from it, but it is a complete waste of our time to constantly live our lives in the rear view mirror.
Aging gives us opportunities to experience the next chapter of our journey with excitement – whether that is the next 5 years or 50 years.
It’s completely up to our attitude and choice
2 – Importance of Relationships as We Age
When we are young, we define ourselves through the expensive things that we own, the schools that we attend, or the prestigious jobs that we have.
Check out my amazing house – It has 5 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms! Why do I need 8 bathrooms, you say? You know, just in case!
Why, yes, I didn’t attend that little school called ‘Harvard.’ – Are you impressed?
When I was the senior executive chief officer for this very prestigious company, I was very very important.
However, as we get older, we realize that true joy comes from meaningful and deep relationships rather than our possessions, our schools or our jobs.
We realize that people didn’t really care about our accomplishments as much as we thought they did.
Real meaning and joy in life is found in community, family and connections.
I see this with our own parents as they get older.
A large part of why we live in Orange County, California is due to the fact that my parent’s Korean church is only a 5 minute drive from our house.
For my parents, the church community plays a huge role in their lives now.
Much bigger than material things or the prestige of their previous careers.
It is the place where they not only practice their faith, but where they connect genuinely with their friends and community.
It’s interesting to see how the things that I’ve come to value so much up to now – my job title, the school I attended, my net worth become less and less important as we age.
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” ― Charlie Tremendous Jones
3 – Never Stop Reading!
I enjoyed reading this part of the book. Drumroll please.
“NEVER STOP READING. Fill your head and your heart with adventures and history, with fantasy and tales. Learn something new every day. It keeps us young.” – Stephanie Raffelock
I thoroughly enjoy reading and I wish to do more of it as I get older. I’m glad Stephanie reinforced this timeless advice.
And I believe this to not only be important for us, but for our elderly and our aging parents as well.
Not only does reading keep our mind curious and teachable, a good book nurtures vitality as we get older.
If you want some recommendation on my favorite personal finance books, check out my recommendation here – Resources.
4 – It’s Never Too Late To START Something, or STOP Something
Stephanie talks about in her book how she always had a desire to write.
However, she kept pushing it off using life as an excuse. There was always a job to keep her busy or the mortgage to pay down.
However, at the age of 62, with a reclaimed desire to pursue her dream, she sat down and completed her first novel.
She admits that it wasn’t that great. However, what is so admirable is that she didn’t give up on her dream.
She didn’t use aging or life as an excuse when the desire reentered her life.
In contrast, Stephanie also talks about saying no to things.
When we are young, we wear busyness as a badge of honor.
We always have projects to work on. People to meet. Places to go to.
However, when we don’t have open spaces, we don’t have time for reflection. We don’t have time for rejuvenation.
Don’t think it’s ever too late to start something, but also don’t be afraid to stop and just reflect.
5 – Old People are Not Frail!
We often think of older people as frail and feeble.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all ageist.
Especially in today’s society where we celebrate the youth and dismiss the elderly.
We think that life is over for a ninety year old person.
However, people are living longer and healthier today than ever before in the history of mankind.
According to the United Nations, the average person born in 1960, could expect to live to 52.5 years of age. Today, the average is 72.
And the elderly are fully engaged with the world and with each other.
Look at Joe Biden, the oldest person to assume the presidency at the age of 78. He looks pretty vibrant to me.
And Jimmy Carter is 97 years old now. Many people would argue he’s done more in the last 30 years after his presidency than his previous 30 years when he was younger.
As people are living longer, we will interact more with individuals that are older.
Instead of seeing aging as something negative, I want to have a positive perspective towards it.
You and I will all one day age and I want to be relevant to the world until the day I die.
Like good wine, people get better with age!
Stephanie’s book is amazing and has many more lessons. I highly recommend checking it out.