I am all for the opportunities of ageing.

I am, however, worried about the propagation of the idea that we ‘should’ or ‘can all’ age in some kind of perfect, middle-class, well-groomed way, with our diet and routines so carefully managed that we are ‘sure’ to be happy and healthy, running marathons and participating in art classes until we die peacefully in our sleep.

Or perhaps we don’t die in this fantasy, we just quietly ‘cease’ apart from our Facebook page.

Regular readers will know that I am committed to the normalisation of ageing, which includes accepting that it will come with many challenges. This is the opportunity that comes with the development of our spiritual selves.

I say development because our spirituality does not grow with age. It grows with practice. Our spiritual selves may well be challenged by the physical changes that will one day make an appearance, however, as our bodies inevitably decline (yes, inevitably, despite all we can do to improve on our trajectory) and slow down, our spiritual self can become ever stronger and more a place to ‘be’.

I have been enjoying Bill Randall’s latest book, ‘In Our Stories Lies our Strength: Aging, Spirituality and Narrative’ (2019). The first chapter is a nice summary of the major themes to be found in research when we ask, What is good about ageing?

  •     More down to earth
  •     More far-sighted
  •     More mature management of our emotions
  •     More positive and selective
  •     More comfortable with ambiguity
  •     More inward-looking
  •     More interest in the bigger picture
  •     More open to death
  •     More mature forms of spirituality*

What do you think of this list – is there anything missing? Write and let me know: ihampton@meaningfulage.org.au.

This piece was originally published in the Meaningful Ageing Australia e-Newsletter.

Image: Jovanmandic, iStock.

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