A few days ago, I wrote about some of the major themes in Ageless Soul, Thomas Moore’s wonderful new book on how to age with meaning and purpose. Now, I’d like to take a look at what this means in practical terms, and highlight the pursuits and activities that separate aging from simply growing old.
Moore points out that for those of us who have had a long career, our priorities may have been focused on things like meeting/exceeding the expectations of our boss or customers, getting promotions and increasing our salary. The soul doesn’t care about this stuff. In Moore’s words, “the deeper soul lives on a different set of values.”
What is the soul looking for as we age?
We’re all looking for happiness as we age, but I think the word contentment might be better suited for the soul. We want to know, deep in our bones, that we’re living the fullest, richest life possible. Fortunately, finding this contentment just got a little easier.
Thomas Moore has provided us with an invaluable cheat sheet, a 10-point checklist that captures all that the soul values in aging and retirement, and some might say, life. The words in bold come from Moore. I have added my own thoughts that follow each word or phrase.
The 10 Keys to Happier Aging.
- Beauty. Regularly expose yourself to the things that are beautiful to you. If you’re like me, this may relate to nature and the outdoors and activities like walking in the woods, sitting quietly in a garden or just being fully present at the beach.
- Contemplation. Spend time alone in silent thought, at least 15 minutes a day. If and when needed, use meditation or centering prayer to cleanse the mind.
- Deeply felt experiences. What really talks to your soul? It may be watching the sunrise, skiing down a snow-covered hill or having a romantic candlelit dinner at home.
- Meaningful relationships. Stay engaged and in touch (physically) with your spouse or significant other. Converse regularly with the friends and family members that matter most.
- Knowledge. Keep your mind active by reading, listening to podcasts, watching TV shows, on the subjects that interest you.
- A sense of home. As the saying goes, home is where the heart is. Find it in the place you live or a place you visit often. Spend quality time there.
- Art. It talks to our soul in ways words cannot. Display the art that speaks to you in your home; make regular visits to art museums and galleries.
- Spiritual peace. Being at peace with yourself means being at peace with others. Practice forgiveness and when necessary, make amends even when you’re not at fault.
- Community. Be a part of a larger extended group. Many find this naturally at church, but if you (like me) don’t attend regularly, look to any group or organization that does good.
- Relaxation and comfort. Sometimes you just need to chill. In a hammock or an easy chair. With a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. With those closest to you or all alone. You’ve earned it.
I’d like to add an 11th point to the list, Movement. I’ve always believed the body is a vehicle for the soul and as we move through life, the body needs to stay active, helping to strengthen and prolong the life of the soul’s home. I run, but you might walk or swim or bike or attend exercise classes.