Positive ageing advocate Marcus Riley shares some of the greatest lessons we can learn from older people.
When older generations are referenced in conversation, there is commonly a token nod to the wisdom and experience of our elders – but how often is there a genuine desire to seek lessons from those who are indeed older and wiser? Is there real reflection on the traits, methods and ideals that could be applied by younger folk?
The lessons one can take – if open to receiving them – can be adapted to suit any individual of any age. Learning how to control the pace of your life, understanding what is truly important to you personally, having the discipline to live within your means, and investing in relationships that matter, can be best comprehended by following the lead of our older generations.
At a time when a great challenge for many people is to avoid being all consumed by our busy schedules, the example from those wiser and more experienced is to better control the pace of your life in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Essentially, reduce the pressure we place on ourselves by slowing down and not over-committing what is limited personal time and energy. Instead of rushing from one thing to the next, revel in whatever you’re doing, appreciate your surroundings and take opportunities for conversation.
As we do become swept up with the busyness and short-sightedness of our hectic schedules, we often tend to neglect the relationships we hold closest to our hearts. Those who are older tend to better recognise the importance of the relationships that matter and the impact they have on our quality of life. People commonly then look to re-invest time and energy in nurturing those relationships. Younger people can apply this learning earlier rather than have to make up time later.
Similarly, older people tend to have a more heightened awareness of prioritising what is genuinelyimportant to them because it is essential to maintaining one’s sense of purpose. Most often, this comes with the roles that they play in their families, community, workplace and in the pursuit of their passions.
No doubt, older generations have often come from a background of fixed incomes, which has led to a better understanding of the need to live within your means. This presents a stark contrast to today’s society where everything is disposable and the struggle when it comes to saving versus spending money. Clearly, there is much to gain by being prudent and savvy when it comes to how we spend our money and plan for our futures.
There is an underlying reality that with age, comes perspective of what is important in life but instead of waiting, people could choose to develop this knowledge at a younger age and benefit accordingly. Taking the example of those older and wiser is the best way to start.
Marcus Riley is the author of Booming: A life-changing philosophy for ageing well, director of the Global Ageing Network and CEO of BallyCara.