Profiling aging well

“Becoming a person of character” is a lifelong process … with challenges of growth vs. stagnation … and meeting “our intrinsic need for recognition and affirmation” [1].

Profiling successful people is an interesting exercise. Trying to characterize their key traits. Two articles …

This article discusses letting go of behaviors which subvert respect.

• Hack Spirit > “If you want to be respected as you get older, say goodbye to these 9 behaviors” by Mia Zhang (January 18, 2024) – The behaviors we hold on to and those we let go can make a huge difference in how others perceive us.

“Researchers found that feeling respected and valued by others leads to long-term happiness and well-being.”

Being respected as you age isn’t about becoming someone else. It’s about refining and maturing our behaviors to reflect the wisdom and experience we’ve gained over the years.

To achieve this, there are nine particular behaviors you might want to consider saying goodbye to. Here’s a heads up on what they are.

  • Being inflexible – unwilling to understand and adapt [being close-minded] to new perspectives or circumstances [nostalgic attachment].
  • Not listening – not trying to understand others’ perspectives.
  • Acting judgmental – imposing one’s beliefs on others, thereby creating barriers to open communication.
  • Holding grudges – valuing past disagreements over relationships, letting past hurts control our present and future.
  • Being overly critical – constantly criticizing others for their [perceived] shortcomings.
  • Neglecting self-care – not valuing ourselves, not setting a positive example.
  • Avoiding apologies – associating apologies with weakness, appearing stubborn and proud [vs. showing humility, maturity, and strength].
  • Being dismissive – for example, belittling others’ feelings or experiences [lacking empathy].
  • Avoiding personal growth – resisting growth, choosing comfort and familiarity over the uncertainty of change [nostalgic attachment].

Well, whatever your means, what helps make the most out of your so-called golden years. Your attitudes.

This article lists 14 traits – perhaps too many to really make them cardinal ones, as there’s interplay between them.

A new term: crystallized intelligence.

• Hack Spirit > “People who make the most of their golden years usually possess these 14 distinctive character traits” by Kathleen Padden (January 15, 2024) – Does growing older have any perks?

  • Creative – doing what you actually enjoy (are passionate about) and may not have had the opportunity to pursue earlier (which globally may not be an option in many cases, eh).
  • Curious (well, this is not something that I’ve encountered with many seniors over the years, namely, a wide-ranging curiosity, e.g., ongoing reading of scientific books).
  • Purposeful – having a quiet but deep conviction that your life is going in the direction that vibes with your sense of purpose.
  • Altruistic – aging with compassion, service to others (and it’s wonderful to see seniors engaged in wider “big tent” community causes vs. narrower tribal or “small tent” causes).
  • Sociable – staying involved with clubs or organizations where you pursue your interests while making new social contacts (and perhaps moving out of your comfort zone, which gets back to being curious and tuning communication skills).
  • Makes healthy choices – (as your health permits) taking the time to get out and exercise (the benefits of which have been shown in so many studies) [2].
  • Stubborn – being disinterested in what other people think about you (I think that there’s a fine line here, between having a sense of integrity and authenticity – and the interplay with other traits – and self-righteous obstinacy).
  • Outdoorsy – getting outside every day, despite any physical limits, and appreciating being part of nature.
  • Love of learning – not being afraid to try new things and expand your intellectual horizons (again, this is not something that I’ve encountered with many “happy” seniors over the years – secure and sure in their “locked-down” knowledge bases).
  • Embraces change – accepting changes in your lifestyle, accomodating changing needs and interests.
  • Adaptability – dealing with events over which there’s limited or no control (I prefer the term resilience here).
  • Positivity – staying positive (in some sense) no matter what is going down, leveraging earlier life lessons (which Erikson [1] contrasts with despair).
  • Forgiving – releasing negative emotions from past hurts and grievances, and laying aside any associated “emotional armor” (you’d think that “people of faith” would be better able to do this, eh).
  • Family oriented – maintaining your relationships with family and friends (yes, in general, but I’d recast “family” in a wider sense than just kin; and, in line with other traits, an evolving circle of meaningful relationships, as I’ve encountered the notion of family as the “ultimate concern” [3] – a tribal-like tent).

[1] Cf. Erik Erikson’s framework for aging.

• Wiki > Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development

[2] I’ve met long-married couples in situations where one spouse is active physically and the other’s a “couch potato” (or some other stark contrast in healthy-unhealthy habits) – which perhaps is reflected in other traits.

[3] Cf. theologian Paul Tillich’s notion of religion as one’s ultimate concern.

3 comments on “Profiling aging well

  1. Retirement daily habits

    For those with adequate wherewithal, graceful retirement is about balance – daily habit, mental & physical exercise, connection – “what makes you feel alive, valued, and engaged.”

    • Global English Editing > “People who are truly happy in their retirement usually adopt these 7 daily habits” by Lucas Graham (January 28, 2024) – Embracing the journey of retirement.

    • Start with a morning ritual
    • Embrace routine, but don’t shun spontaneity
    • Stay connected with loved ones
    • Keep your mind sharp
    • Make peace with aging
    • Find joy in giving back
    • Nurture your physical health
  2. A “good-enough” purpose? What would Steve Jobs say?

    I’ve been reading articles about generational reframing of cultural norms re purpose and fulfillment [1]. Or mission. Particularly among the latest gen cohorts.

    But here’s a different take on purpose in one’s later years. A perspective on neediness, striving, achievement – finding a different beacon or mooring, yet with passion. (And even some ideas from Carl Jung.)

    Hopefully this take is not an entitled contentment. Not merely tending one’s own garden (and going on ship cruises), but attending to a wider landscape of relationships. At a time when engaged wisdom is sorely needed.

    • Psychology Today > “When the Search for a Sense of Purpose Turns on You” by Gregg Levoy (May 2, 2024) – Purpose has benefits, but it can also become just another form of striving.

    KEY POINTS (quoted)

    • There are real benefits to a sense of life-purpose—health, meaning, focus—but there are also drawbacks.

    • Enjoying the world is as good a purpose as serving the world.

    • Our fitful and purpose-driven world makes it hard to step away from the relentless pursuit of life-purpose.

    I’m happy just getting a little distance from (rising above, you might say) all my assumptions about what a passionate, productive, and meaningful life looks like, all the operating instructions I inherited for how to construct and maintain a proper sense of self.


    [1] The role of economic uncertainty on lifestyle choices.

    • LA Times > “The latest threat to China? The rise of the DINKs” by Stephanie Yang, Staff Writer (May 8, 2024) – The rejection of societal norms comes at an inopportune time for the Communist Party, which is struggling to stave off a demographic crisis in which there aren’t enough young people to support the elderly.

    Middle way

  3. “When your body moves, your brain improves.”

    I reframed this article’s list of habits to avoid (or correct) – see article for details – as a list of things to do:

    • Get enough social interaction – even as your social network may dwindle.
    • Keep your brain active – get outside your “comfort zone” by learning new things (within the framework of your other daily routines).
    • Recognize & address chronic stress – include daily spells of relaxation.
    • Limit fast food / ultra-processed food.
    • Develop daily habits which promote quality sleep, not just quantity.
    • Include daily physical activity, beyond regular weekly workout sessions.

    • HuffPost Life > “6 Seemingly ‘Harmless’ Habits That Are Prematurely Aging Your Brain” – Daily habits help keep our aging brains healthy.

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