Are you just growing old—or are you aging with purpose?

Are you just growing old—or are you aging with purpose? November 13, 2017

Aleksander Popovski via

Are you becoming more and more aware of your advancing age? Do you wonder if you’re making the most of your life—or fear that the best years of your life may be behind you? If you can relate to these questions, then Thomas Moore’s new book Ageless Soul is required reading.

As you may know, Moore has written for decades on various facets of the soul and has now turned his attention to how aging impacts this deepest part of our selves. He reminds us that “the soul is not a technical or scientific term. It’s an ancient one, rooted in the idea of breathing and being alive. It lies deeper than personality, ego, consciousness and the knowable.”  It is who we are at our very core.

“The first taste of getting old can be unsettling.”  ~Thomas Moore

See if this sounds familiar. You’re cruising through life, one day blending into the next, when suddenly you are given an unmistakable sign: You are not as young as you once were. Here are just a few of the ways, both big and small, this can happen:

  • You notice an unfamiliar stiffness and soreness once you awaken and after you exercise.
  • You observe new wrinkles on your face or creases on your body.
  • You find yourself holding printed materials away from our body, at an arm’s length, in order to read them.
  • You notice that people are treating you differently, asking if you need assistance, or addressing you in a more formal way.
  • You walk into a room in your home—and forget the reason you entered it.

Moore calls these “small shocks.” I call them “wake up calls.”

They jar us out of our illusion of youthfulness, or feelings of complacency, and force us to confront the fact we are getting older. These small shocks are necessary. Without them, we might go through life without reflecting on the subtle but significant changes underway in our lives.

You now have a choice: aging or growing old.

Moore informs us there’s a difference. Growing old is a passive state where you sit back and let life happen to you. Aging is an active state, “a process by which you become somebody real and alive…more spiritually and culturally complex.” This process requires your full attention and participation. As Moore says:

Aging requires courage. It’s an active decision. You say yes to life’s invitations. You read the signs. You take it all on. You don’t back off. You don’t make excuses. You don’t run for safety.

The key to aging with purpose is preparation. Whether you’re working at a job or in a long-term career, when you reach the age of 50, the transition should begin. You’ll need to start thinking about life after work and how you will continue to grow and thrive and become the fully formed person you were meant to be.

When people think of keeping their youth as they age, the often think too physically and literally. They get facelifts but not personality lifts. They try to look young without being young.

Moore advises us that it might be best to try and “stay young from the inside out.” Everyone has the flicker of youth inside them and “that youthfulness needs only to be freed.” That means keeping the old person who craves order and tradition in check, and letting “the youthful attributes of energy and ideas come to the forefront”. If we desire, we can keep our youth forever.

It’s important to keep moving, unfolding your deep potential, becoming a real individual, loving life more and more, and arriving at old age prepared and ready for more of the same.

What are the attributes you should focus on to live a full and rich life, aging instead of growing older? Moore has a list of thought-provoking areas of value we should pursue. I’ll write more about these 10 keys to aging with happiness and purpose in the coming days.

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