The 3 essential traits that are linked to good health are:
A sense of Personal control, and
The ability to find Meaning in one’s life experiences
These 3 traits are valuable psychological resources. They also allow us to cope more effectively with adversity and provide a buffer when experiencing illness (although no one quite understands how it works). These are traits to cultivate because they actually help us to adjust to new, maybe unpleasant, experiences and they seem to even protect our health.
Source: Psychological resources, positive illusions, and health. S. Taylor et al. American Psychologist V.55 #1: 99-109, 2000.
Reading keeps you healthy; purchasing my book keeps me healthy.
Generation X is considered to be the people born between 1960-1980, probably children of Baby Boomers. I want to mention 2 characteristics – 1. guiding philosophy and 2. relationship with authority – and how how these important qualities show significant differences between these generations. The distinctions probably baffle both sides.
1. Guiding Philosophy- Baby Boomers are marked by striving for ‘authenticity’ in their lives. They”ve been working on this for years and are carrying it into old age. At the same time, their self concept is that of endlessly fulfilling responsible duties. On the other hand, Gen Xers are endlessly experimenting with who they are and how to shape themselves (literally and figuratively). They are very concerned with always having choices.
2. Relationship to Authority – Baby Boomers have always challenged authority and pride themselves on continuing to believe that this is a good thing
to do. Gen Xers ignores authority and accept change as the rule rather than as the exception.
We shouldn’t be surprised that we don’t understand each other very well. You can see it in families as the generations are confused and you can see it in law firms, universities, and organizations where these differences play out all the time, baffling the participants as they experience the chasm that separates them.
Many people have written about midlife, me included. One of the most fascinating concepts came from psychologist Carl Jung. Jung talked about the arc of life from birth to death (sun rise to sunset) with midlife obviously falling around the after
noon. He posited that, for the early years of adulthood, we work at being/doing all sorts of things, for example, being a student, friend, lover, parent, teacher or whatever else you have made the focus of your time and energy.
Then, during the middle years, we begin to yearn for the life we did not live
during the first half of life – the road not taken. If we married young, we miss the years of experimenting, if we worked hard, we envy those who can “chill out”, if we went down road X, we wonder what our lives would have been life had we traveled on road Z. Whatever we DID NOT pursue, did not develop, we may discover the urge to find it and reclaim it.
Of course, there are always things that we haven’t pursued. We all make choices and create our lives. And, with those choices, we put other activities or people aside until, at midlife, we long for the missing pieces, search for them, and perhaps try to bring them into our lives.
My friend Margit was talking about the idea of ‘harvesting’ as an aspect of growing older. It’s a different thought, especially for people like me who want to keep digging and planting (to keep the metaphor farm-like). I find it refreshing to contemplate the notion that I can continue all the creative activities that I love but, I can also find time to relish the harvest that results from years of past endeavors.
This idea reminds me of times in my childhood when my mother (maybe yours, too) made a lovely dinner and then ate standing up or took bites in between serving others. It was always annoying, even though I was probably the person she was serving! I wanted her to sit
down, to enjoy her meal with the family, to be a member of the meal rather than a server of the meal. Now I’m rethinking my complaint – maybe I wanted her to harvest her devoted, hard work. She did so much – why not relish the results. There are a thousand ways that I wish I turned out more like my own mother, but not this one. I do think that relaxing long enough to enjoy the harvest is something I can learn to do.
Hmmmm, now I have to figure out what the crops are………..
Not everyone wants to write a book, but most of us want to write many of the chapters in our own lives. For too many people, this buying viagra uk
-att-3261″>motivation stops at midlife; they concentrate on the aging, the losses, and the aches and forget about the future that still exists.
Israeli psychologist Carlos Strenger has a view of midlife that I like. He talks about a sense of authorship. Authorship, in his view, is to live life actively according to our own vision.
He argues that, at 50, we probably have 30 more years and we need to continue to grow and makes changes or we face a long, dull period. Too many people get complacent – life is good enough – or they don’t want
to rock the boat, “what will the family think?” so they allow opportunities to slip by.
Growth and change do not happen magically. They are the results of laborious work, setbacks, mistakes, and successes. This is all to be expected and it integral to the process of developing newness in our lives.
Most people have a picture of the kind of life they want to know before they die. How close we come to that that picture becomes the measure of the quality of our lives. Of course, we cannot change the way that the universe runs; it remains indiffere
nt to my desires and yours but… some of life is in our hands and, at midlife, this becomes very significant.
If we do not act, we will be left with the feeling, “Is this all there is?” Have I been cheated?” We do not want to feel that way. What can you provide for yourself that gives you enjoyment and purpose? In addition to the responsibilities that society has given to us, and that we
have accepted as responsible adults, we are allowed to have goals of our own.
We are all engaged in a struggle to become authentic; a personal struggle to endlessly define our selves.
Enjoyment does not come from being in control, but rather from exercising control in different situations. BUT we must give up the safety of protective routines. Most of us need less self-scrutiny, less ‘is my hair okay?’, less worry. We need to leave the self- consciousness behind.
Here are some tips:
Ask yourself: What do I want?
Set some goals; small goals
Become immersed in the activity
Pay attention, concentrate, enjoy the sustained involvement in the activity
Stay in the present
Freud wrote that children at play create a world of their own; as people grow up, they cease to play.
I like longitudinal studies because we learn
a lot by looking back and reflecting on what we have done/thought/expected. The Harvard Business School’s Class of 1986 was surveyed for its 25th reunion last year and asked about their personal and profe
ssional lives now that they are in midlife – age range 53-55 years old. 35% of the total class responded.
Here are the responses to questions that will be of interest to most midlifers:
- Some 47% of the class said they had been involuntarily dismissed from a job.
- Sex doesn’t seem to be a very high priority for this age group. Just 3% of the alums say they want more sex.
3. Their highest priorities? Time (31%), health (18%), and peace of mind (13%).
4. 43% have been in therapy.
5. One in five (20%) have skydived, while one in three (32%) completed a marathon.
6. 14% of the class is divorced, with another 1% separated. About 5% divorced and remarried.
Was life what you expected? Only 17% said ‘yes’. 12% said “extremely different,” from expectations. Some 38% said their personal life was harder than expected, while 30% said their professional careers have been harder.
I wonder if this makes the rest of you midlifers feel better or worse?
Interested in learning more about midlife? Please read The Art Of Midlife: Courage and Creative Living for Women
Midlife can be a very creative time for two reasons. First, at this stage, people are often ready for a change and have lived long enough, accumulated varied experiences, have a bit of wisdom and can make some interesting choices. Second, they are sick of being told who they are and what to do so they are very ready to express themselves with confidence (or desperation).
You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Creative pursuits can be the way you live your life, cook your food, relate to others, or make choices that are motivated by a strong internal voice. Think about who you are and what sustains you. Then you can take a step in that direction – a small step. Try it out and evaluate.
Midlife is a period when husbands and wives can be at cross purposes, depending on the decisions they have made earlier. If you have made the decision to attend to work from 20-45, you may want to cut back, slow down, and now attend to family. If you made the decision to attend to family during those years, you might be itching to get out into the workforce.
We all have to viagra generic make decisions. But when we choose A, we can’t also be choosing B. No one gets to do everything. We all have responsibilities. The example above demonstrates how the earlier years will influence what you want to do at midlife and beyond. You may want to have the chance to do some things that were not possible earlier – work, not work, pursue hobbies, music, education, interests, be alone, be social, travel, don’t travel, relax. But husbands and wives do not want the exact same thing at the same time. If deciding on what to eat for dinner, or whether to make love, or who drives the kids to soccer, or whether to visit the relatives seems complicated and subject to too much negotiation, midlife can be trickier. Let’s retire! No, I want to start a business!
Bottom line: life ain’t for sissies.
It’s a nasty joke that many men and women are dealing with their own midlife issues at the same time their children are exploding, hormonal adolescents. Just as mom and dad question, “What have I done with my life?” their most precious production slams a door in their faces screaming, “I hate you!” Just as mom and dad ask, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?” their teenager asks for shoes that will cost today’s salary and a car or a college that gives the parents a glimpse into their futures – work forever.
When teenagers are obsessed with their daily ups and downs, the lives of their friends, and the latest text messages crossing the ever present screen, they can be very self absorbed. They are certainly not thinking about the emotional lives of their parents. Parents? Oh, those annoying people who stand in the way of real fun. When parents are contemplating mortality, they do not want to think that their legacy is an adolescent who cares more about skin care rituals and x box than family or future.
It isn’t fair – it ought to be one crisis at a time. When midlife intersects with adolescence, everybody struggles until they work through their developmental stage. Mom and dad review their lives and decide that, when all is said and done, they did okay and can still make changes in the future. The adolescents don’t review because their lives feel like all future and no past but they muddle along and usually turn out surprisingly well.
Life gets easier after everyone’s identity shifts slow down. Parents settle down more confidently and so do kids.