One of the resources that is informing my path of self-discovery is the book, "The Third Age: 6 Principles for Growth and Renewal After Forty" by William Sadler, Ph.D. He offers a distinction, "second growth," that speaks to me in my relationship to the aging process. He defines it as a "process of renewal that transforms aging in the Third Age (45 to 75 years of age)." Instead of a decline as we enter this period of time, it is possible to renew ourselves and live in a new paradigm of aging characterized by 6 principles as people start asking probing existential questions. The Third Age people who he interviewed for the book and who experienced second growth demonstrated the 6 principles.
1. Reflection and Risk Taklng
While becoming more mindfully reflective, they are willing to experiment and take risks.
Mindfulness is noticing what is happening in our present experience without making judgments and judgments. Mindlessness is about not being present to life in the moment; it is about going through the motors, being on automatic and getting stuck in repetitive routines of thinking, speaking and acting.
There is a quote I like; "To the degree that you take risks is the degree to which you experience aliveness- love, vitality, full self-expression and happiness."
2 .. Realistic Optimism
They balance a realistic relationship to their life with the belief that they can realize their dreams.
Human beings have a weak relationship to reality. They have difficulty coming to terms with the "what is so" in their lives. Some examples include: not clear on how much money they are spending; not acknowledging that their marriage and / or job is not working; and not clear on who they are as individuals.
Whatever the reality of the individual dealing with midlife changes, having an optimistic outlook increases the likelihood of positive outcomes.
3. Building a Positive Third Age Identity
They let go of old roles that define them and tend to shift from driving for achievement towards becoming.
People, no matter what age have the capacity to let go of old stories in which they find themselves embedded. One of the things that distinguishes human beings is they are able to create new futures for themselves through speaking in new and powerful ways. Third Agers are starting to explore the domain of "being."
4. Redefining Balancing Work and Play
Work is becoming more important to them instead of less important. They are redefining their relationship to work. They have learned that their work is not their job. Play and education have become more important.
What is becoming more common is the notion of "Portfolio Life," in which all aspects of a person’;s life (work, education, leisure, relationships, personal development, community) are in a state of equilibrium.
5. Expanding Freedom, Deepening Intimacy
The tendency is for the importance of greater freedom in their lives while at the same time valuing greater intelligence.
Freedom and intimacy like the other 5 principles is an example of paradox. Individuation, being your own person is important and equally important is reaching out and relationship building.
6. Enlarging Your Capacity to Care
They have been increasing their capacity to care for more people, society and the world while developing skills of self-care.
There is no "I" (ego, identity). All wisdom traditions say we are all one. Where people find themselves is over there with others, not on "fixing" themselves so they can be better.
Sharing principles are valuable. Integration of principles requires setting up practices, which are any activities you do Repeatedly to awaken and deepen some part of yourself. For example, in the area of risk taking, a daily practice could have introduced yourself to one new person. Without practice, the 6 principles will live as concepts, not as part of who you are.