Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old? | Richard J. Leider

Summary of: Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?: The Path of Purposeful Aging
By: Richard J. Leider


Embark on a transformative journey into purposeful aging, where your later years are not seen as a period of decline, but an opportunity to evolve and contribute meaningfully. Rooted in the idea that life has substance and value, this book summary delves into the importance of becoming an intentional elder in a society that glorifies youth. As you navigate the mental and physical challenges of growing older, uncover the true essence of your life’s purpose by shedding ingrained societal notions, finding your path, and embracing your true self.

Embracing Purposeful Aging

Aging isn’t a decline, but an opportunity to continue thriving, growing, and contributing to society. Purposeful aging involves discovering new possibilities and finding meaning in life through a positive mindset. This mindset centers on purpose, acknowledging the value of one’s life.

Embrace Senior Adulthood

Don’t let society’s negative view of aging hold you back. Embrace senior adulthood as a meaningful and fulfilling life stage, and focus on what gives your days purpose. Society may celebrate youth, but the second half of your life is just as valuable as the first. Don’t shy away from the word “old” or fear the changes in your mind and body. Instead, reimagine them as opportunities to live according to your core values. Active aging is possible, but it starts with self-reflection and a positive attitude towards aging.

Purposeful Aging

Pivotal life events, such as retirement, present an opportunity for self-reflection and projection towards intentional elderhood. Defining your purpose involves identifying how you can contribute to the world, whom you wish to help, and pursuing activities that give you energy. A sense of purpose makes you more optimistic and resilient, and helps you actively engage with the world, unmask your true self, and express your spirituality. Through the body, memory, and soul theories, you can redefine yourself as you age and discover that purpose and spirituality are two sides of the same coin.

Learning, Evolving, and Giving

The purpose of our existence is to grow and give. Young adulthood activities have emotional and financial benefits, while elderhood provides the opportunity to explore profound questions. Asking questions leads to self-discovery and purpose. People experience feelings of regret later in life, but it’s never too late to redefine what success means. Tom Schreier’s retirement at 55 made him feel unmoored, so he redefined success for himself. He now provides tools to help people in their next phase of life.

The Definition of a Worthy Life

The concept of a valuable life is shaped by people’s history, culture, and role models. Hinduism views life as a progression through four stages, with spiritual enlightenment emphasized in the final two. On the other hand, modern society perceives retirement as a time for leisure pursuits and enjoying the fruits of one’s labor. Finding personal satisfaction and fulfillment is the key to feeling wealthy. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, volunteering, and connecting with nature can be ways to achieve spiritual growth. Defining “enough” is crucial to prioritize spiritual satisfaction over monetary concerns.

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