What is Successful and Unsuccessful Aging?

Oct 26 2018

Successful Aging

People who are maturing positively have these attributes:

  1. They have evolved a generous view of others and of the world, which includes maintaining a forgiving stance toward faults and inadequacies in themselves and others.
  2. They have a giving attitude toward themselves and others. They give more financially than do most people according to their means.
  3. They form a caring and positive relationship with nature. They are concerned about the quality of the environment that will be passed on to future generations.
  4. They are reflective and seek self-understanding.
  5. They have had a pivotal event or events that led to transition or re-birth experiences. Everyone has such events, but generative people use them to grow and expand while non-generative people withdraw and blame others for their misfortunes.
  6. They simplify their lives. Generative people take time to gain the insight needed to clear away clutter and confusion.  They learn to set limits.
  7. They have the courage to change both themselves and conditions around them.
  8. They describe themselves as spiritual. They trust God or some Higher Power, and they trust the life process. , perspective and creative insight.
  9. They are sought out by others for counsel, wisdom, perspective and creative insight.
  10. They are committed to continued learning. Generative people often spend considerable time learning on their own or attend a variety of workshops and classes.
  11. They are clearly engaged in caring behaviors toward themselves and others.
  12. They are evolving heathier eating and exercise patterns.
  13. They find laughter and tears coming easily and spontaneously.
  14. They are hopeful people. They take their dreams seriously and their lives demonstrate that some dreams do come true.
  15. They have the courage to deal with their own mortality, making appropriate plans as needed. 

Unsuccessful Aging

Those caught in self-absorption and stagnation will increasingly manifest such personality characteristics as:

  1. A tendency to blame others for problems, and feelings of isolation.
  2. A tendency to alienate other people. Those aging unsuccessfully are difficult to be with for more than a brief time.
  3. Moodiness, irritability, thoughtlessness, low vitality, chronic anger, despair, meanness of spirit.
  4. Cling to rigid opinions, unable to set them aside long enough to listen to another’s views or experiences. They don’t allow certain people or topics to be mentioned and those around them are careful not to share delicate or intimate subjects.
  5. An in ability to enjoy and adapt to the changing world.
  6. A need to hang on to what was.
  7. An increasing obsession with life’s inequities and their wounds.
  8. A noticeable lack of intimate friends of any generation.
  9. A high use of alcohol, tranquilizers, or other forms of escape, such as TV, frenetic activity, etc.
  10. The inability to be a “wise elder” who has something of lasting value to give to others.
  11. A tendency to create guilty feelings in those around them.
  12. An excessive focus on themselves, especially on their health problems and bodily functions.
  13. Fears of the future. 

I constructed Johnson Institute Course 102 from research and my clinical experiences;  it’s my best attempt to light the path to a happy, healthy, and holy time of life that  I call the Illumination Years – a time when we can open our minds and soul to God’s grace, power, peace, and personal meaning like no other time of life.

Until next time….stay light and be bright.

Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.

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