The Big Conversation, April 2014 – how to thrive in mid-life and beyond
“Aim to be the old person you would like to visit”
What a great afternoon this was! In several rounds of relaxed and lively conversation, much laughter and reflection, and of course, lovely tea, sandwiches and cake, the final summary of the ‘resolutions’ to ourselves looked like this:
- Go back to basics from time to time – understand what’s important in your life and make it happen as much as you are able
- Accept ourselves for who we are
- Re-invent ourselves from time to time – surprise others (and yourself) with unexpected or fun actions or directions – novelty is an important spice in life and helps prevent us from becoming stuck in our ways
- Enjoy the liberating side of possible invisibility – the invisibility cloak gives us a potential freedom to do things as perhaps no one is noticing (or judging) as much as we might fear. One person used the phrase “rejoice in our insignificance” (and mentioned that feeling you get when staring at the stars).
- Keep up with IT and new technology – this is a very interesting one and a striking example was cited of a far flung family who have an agreement to cook the same Sunday lunch at the same time and eat it whilst they have Skype running so they can chat to each other over lunch. This suddenly made me, for one, feel that the possibilities could be far ranging and who knows what new mechanisms will come into play in the next two or three decades?
- Practise mindfulness (a couple of people were already familiar with Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s book, Mindfulness: finding peace in a frantic world which I can recommend) and age mindfully too.
- Get rid of “some day”
- Experiment more
- Learn new skills and develop new interests
- Stay engaged with what’s happening in the world around us. This doesn’t necessarily mean news and current affairs but means staying engaged with new writing, books, music, art, networks or events rather than staying exclusively with the prevalent culture when you were twenty or thirty or whatever.
- Commit time to self- development, and re-appraise from time to time (the big birthdays are often good for this!). It may involve de-cluttering in a myriad of ways!
- Which brings us on to learn to let go – emotions, physical stuff, “I must” and “I should”, sometimes people or relationships, or learning to re-define relationships, for example, with adult children or ex-partners.
- Practise discernment and choicefulness – we can’t do everything so we have to be selective. Age and experience can help us select well!
- Plan for eventualities – we had an interesting conversation about a “good death” (which might form the basis for a whole Big Conversation in due course). It is possible and, for some people, very calming to take control to an extent by making your wishes clear to those it would affect about things like how much medical intervention should be applied if you were unable to make those decisions yourself. Likewise, sorting your will out.
- Take responsibility for our own well-being – mental and physical. This is not the same as saying that no one else can help us or we may not need support or intervention or medical treatment at times. But it IS about prioritising those habits and actions that support our own well-being rather than taking it for granted or dismissing it in the face of being too busy or putting ourselves last after meeting everyone else’s needs.
- Cultivate friendships with older and younger people – value diversity and connection.
And a date for your diary – Saturday 27th September, 2-5pm at Arkwright Meadows Community Gardens, the Meadows, Nottingham – the next Big Conversation “How to be happy”. Tickets will be on sale from July – sign up for the newsletter to find out more.