Quite simply – according to Kate McKenzie anyway! – perspective transformation is putting on a new pair of glasses and “seeing” something in a different way. And how we “see” aging makes all the difference!
Getting a bit more “technical” now…in grad school – not so very long ago! – I became aware of the late Jack Mezirow’s theory of perspective transformation. And I loved it! Paraphrasing Mezirow, a sociologist and Emeritus Professor at Columbia University, perspective transformation is a conscious recognition of the difference between an old viewpoint and a new one…and “seeing” the newer perspective as being of more value. Voila! Rather than seeing aging as a sad state of affairs we can see aging as a God-given opportunity to learn, grow, and do more with our lives.
Our perspective – like a pair of glasses – affects the way we see everything in life….not just aging. If you think about it, every day – consciously and unconsciously – we all engage in “meaning-making.” We assign meaning to everything that happens in our lives. To a large extent that assigned meaning determines the quality of our lives. We “see” things as good or bad, positive or negative, worthwhile or worthless, happy or sad, fun or boring, important or unimportant. Need I go on?
In 1978 when Jack Mezirow wrote about perspectivetransformation, I am quite sure he didn’t have perspectives on aging in mind. Well, I do!
How about we all try on a brand new pair of glasses and see getting older as an amazing adventure that we will experience together on this life journey?
So…do the people, places and activities in your life contribute to your happiness and well-being??
If I read a book and learn something new that I remember for a really long time, then reading that book was worth my time. Reading Finding My Own North Star by Martha Beck – which I read at least ten years ago – was definitely worth my time! In this book Dr. Beck shares her advice on discovering our own unique “right life” – or, as she refers to it, our Own North Star.
Before I get to what I remember most about this book (and please keep reading!), let me share a few valuable insights that Dr. Beck provided. First, none of the individuals that have touched our lives have the ability to control our choices. We do sometimes forget that. Second, accepting impermanence means embracing the world as it is, complete with loss. That acceptance becomes even more important as we grow older. Next, it’s important to “hang out with our favorite people” – our “tribe.” Can’t argue with that!
Now on to my very favorite part of Dr. Beck’s book! The Lifestyle Profile allows us to plot along a negative-to-positive continuum how our body reacts to the peoplein our lives, the activities in our lives, and the places where we spend our time. I’ve attached a somewhat abbreviated version of the Profile if you’d like to give it a try. Please take a look!
Now, hopefully we inherently know what and who have either positive or negative impacts on our lives. However, seeing that “in black and white” can be eye-opening – at the very least – or even at times alarming. Right there in front of us, on that piece of paper, we can see where we just might want to make some changes in our life!
All in all, Finding Your Own NorthStar offers some helpful advice for “turning your life into a work of art.” Just as the “real” North Star up in the heavens helps sailors navigate on stormy seas, our own North Star can help us find our way back “home” when we veer off course, which we sometimes do. Personally, I’ll take all the help I can get!
And our journey continues at the great University of Life!
When we are blessed with many birthdays, we have already faced many challenges…and will continue to face challenges for as long as we are given the gift of life.
Bette Davis was right! (Younger folks might have never heard of Bette Davis. “Oldsters” like me recognize that name.) Yes, Ms. Davis was “on the money” when she made the declaration that “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Obviously she was old enough to know that when we are blessed with many birthdays, we have already faced many challenges…and will continue to face challenges for as long as we are given the gift of life.
Do you know any aging folks who seem to have given up and sometimes almost relish wallowing in some kind of self-imposed purgatory? How sad is that???
Let’s see. I’ve experienced the death of both of my parents and my big brother, Tim. I said good-bye to my precious grandparents, “Munner” and “Pap,” so many years ago. Today I am trying to help a very close family member navigate more-than-difficult life twists and turns that have come her way. Tomorrow? Who knows?
But…I have also been blessed through the years with two wonderful daughters and two grandsons that I love more than life itself. My best friend of close to fifty years has brought me so much strength, happiness and balance as we have lived our lives and faced life’s challenges. While we live miles apart, we are always close at heart!
In other words, Bette Davis was indeed right. Old age ain’t no place for sissies! It’s a place for those who have both survived challenges and been blessed beyond measure.
Get on board the old age train to contentment, acceptance, happiness and thankfulness.You’re in good company!
Do you have any inspiring “old age quotes” to pass along??