The last section of Thriving Beyond Midlife, How Will You Live?, concerns itself with thriving even while dealing with the declining personal resources and frailty that come with advanced age.
Researchers found that 30% of seniors over age 73 were most satisfied with the present time in their lives. These are the seniors who adapted to aging and frailty through selection, optimization and compensation.
Selection is choosing to do what you can; optimization is doing it as well as you can; compensation is finding alternate ways of getting it done. The thirty percent are able to focus on the positive, ignore the pain, and be willing to change. By thriving these thirty percent inspire their peers and alleviate the psychological and spiritual pain that often comes with old age and frailty.
Life cannot be controlled and it does not have to be controlling if you can learn to dance with life either as leader or follower. MacBean’s and Simmons’ prescription for thriving is to express yourself and embrace others in the four domains of body, mind, heart and soul.
The thrivers are comfortable with their bodies no matter what their age. They have learned to love their bodies by adjusting their attitudes and their exercises to compensate for the shape they are in.
The thrivers exercise their minds. They have mental strength and flexibility. They have goals. They live in the present but do not ignore the future. Thrivers know that a willingness to forgive keeps relationships alive and current and not stuck in the past of old hurts. Thrivers have values that never change.
Thrivers with heart love their family, friends and community. Thrivers have the emotional agility to accept themselves as they are. Thrivers know that the longer they live they will experience the deaths of family members and friends. Their emotional agility allows them to go on with life and make new friends while remembering the old.
Finally, thrivers are spiritual beings, not necessarily religious, but aware of the mystery of life. Thrivers know that the spirit transcends death and are at peace with dying when the time comes.
Let me end this with a few lines from T. S. Eliot that are quoted in the book:Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers Here and there does not matter We must be still and still moving Into another intensity For a further union, a deeper communion… In my end is the beginning.