Tag Archives: Emotional well-being

The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be: A paradigm for 65 and beyond

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Back when I had my 65th birthday I realized that the majority of the people in the world would consider me an old man. I am in the minority (i.e., in denial), so I got to thinking about what kind of old man I wanted to be when I got to be one. I did not want to just morph into an old man, so I decided to be proactive and choose the kind of old man I wanted to be and then to take steps to be that kind of person. This book presents a paradigm for contentment in old age regardless of one’s circumstances. Its basic premise is that the kind of old person you are will determine your contentment level. After surveying books available on aging, all of which have to do with doing and coping rather than being, I deal with character traits that I want to have as an old man. Then I present how I want to live out those traits by being fun to live with, being loquacious, and one who can carpe diem. This book deals with writing the rest of one’s life story, the end of one’s life story (facing death and beyond), and putting meaning to one’s life story. These are things that older people think about a lot. The findings of my research in the areas of literature, philosophy, psychology and religion pertaining to dealing with death and the meaning of life are presented in the last two chapters.

The book contains humorous quotes, antidotes and illustrations throughout the text pertaining to the topic addressed. Examples of doing what I say I do not want to do are given tongue-in-cheek for illustrative purposes.

“Easy mix of humor and an erudition lightly worn. St Augustine meets Josh Billings.”
Chris Murray (Editor)

Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Antioch Publications (September 2016)
Language: English
ISBNs:
978-0-9967929-3-6 Print
978-0-9967929-4-3 Mobi
978-0-9967929-5-0 ePub

 

You can find this book at major booksellers including:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million

If cows can be content, why can’t old people?

They do have things in common, you know, like being put out to pasture. How many of you remember the advertising slogan “Carnation Condensed Milk, the milk from contented cows”?

Elbridge Amos Stuart was born in North Carolina (like I was) in 1856 (like I wasn’t). He was an American milk industrialist and creator of Carnation evaporated milk which was a staple in American homes until the 1960s. In 1907, he introduced the promotional phrase “Carnation Condensed Milk, the milk from contented cows”. This slogan referred to the higher quality milk from happy cows grazing in the lush Pacific Northwest. Carnation cows held the world milk production record for 32 consecutive years. That is some accomplishment for those who have been put out to pasture.

Old people and cows have more in common than being put out to pasture. Their lives consist of the basics of eating and sleeping. Cows are content with that if the grass is good. As cows go about their pastoral life they unthinkingly produce milk. The quality of the pasture makes a difference in the quality of what they produce. For old people, the quality of the person they are makes a difference in their contentment level when in the pasture. Unfortunately, most older people are not thinking about the kind of person they are. They are thinking about the pasture they have found themselves in and most are not content.

I believe that by middle-age people should be paying attention to the kind of person they are because that is the kind of old person they will be if they do not change. The character traits of being aggressive, looking out for yourself first, getting ahead of the pack, etc. that society demands of up-and-coming adults will only get you ostracized to the back of the pack when you are out to pasture. That is not  a receipt for contentment in old age. What is needed is a paradigm for contentment for old people.

Here are some excerpts from Chapter 1 of my book The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be: A paradigm for 65 and beyond that will be released September 1, 2016:

What would make a person content in their old age? The answer is obvious. People who have family close by, financial security, and good health are the most content. Remember that we Baby Boomers broke all the rules and we are paying the price as we enter old age. The divorce rate for this generation is the highest in US history. Families are shattered and scattered. Consumer credit has overextended us to where the markets cannot support us and the value of retirement funds has taken a severe hit in recent years. Good health can go in a second, and we are less likely to have it the older we get. The obvious basis for contentment in old age is not the reality for most of us old people.

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Back when I had my 65th birthday I realized that the majority of the people in the world would consider me an old man. I am in the minority (i.e., in denial), so I got to thinking about what kind of old man I wanted to be when I got to be one. I did not want it to just happen. I did not want to just morph into an old man, so I decided to be proactive and choose the kind of old man I wanted to be and then to take steps to be that kind of person. I don’t want to be old, but it is the only way I know to have a long life.

As I am writing this, my wife and I are about halfway between 65 and 70 years old. We still have good health and are able to go and do; however, we are finding it takes us longer to get over going and doing. I write about the kind of old man I want to be with my wife in mind. She will have to put up with whatever kind of old man I am and she deserves the best, so, I will try to be the best old man I can.

I also write with my mother in mind. She died in her early 80’s after a few years in a nursing home. Her experience there gave me the opportunity to observe older people at their most vulnerable. There were some who were a joy to be around and some that the attendants were not paid enough to be around. What was the difference?

This was about 20 years ago and I started thinking then that a place like this could very well be my future. Some, like my mother, were not able to walk; some were not able to talk. Could I handle this if it was me? When I turned 65 I realized that the possibilities have become probabilities and I better get busy preparing myself for being an old man. What kind of old man do I want to be?

Now, I don’t claim to know how the milk got in the coconut, but I am reasonably intelligent and I should be able to figure this old man thing out. I don’t want to be like many old men who, like I said before, look for things to do to kill time while time is killing them. I have learned to look thoughtful even when I am not thinking, but I have also done a lot of actual thinking about the kind of old man I want to be.

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There are some things that I cannot do anything about and there are some things that I can. So, I will concentrate on the things I can be proactive about. One is my character or personality. I do not want to be a grumbling, complaining old man. I want to be an old man who is positive and not negative. I want to have the temperament that makes for happiness and contentment for me and those around me.

Feelings trump truth

“The truth hurts” is an old saying that describes telling someone the truth when the truth is perceived as negative and makes the recipient feel bad. The meaning behind the saying is the truth may hurt, but it does not harm, and it should spur the recipient on to be better or do better so that the truth will no longer hurt. The saying was popular when people wanted to hear the truth. Not so today! Why? Because people do not want to feel bad. Why? Because life is feelings brought on by experiences. People, especially young people, do not want to experience anything that makes them feel bad. They are willing to sacrifice truth and knowledge in order to avoid feeling bad.

An article in the September 2015 issue of The Atlantic magazine titled “The Coddling of the American Mind” shows the extent that young people today want to avoid feeling bad. The article begins: “Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.” The movement is fueled by the “emotional well-being” of the individual. Of course, like so much in the world where bad is called good, the movement to avoid negative feelings in the name of emotional well-being will have the opposite effect. A person who cannot deal responsibly with negative feelings will never have emotional well-being.

The article gives the example of a law professor at Harvard who was asked by law students to not to teach rape law or to use the word “violate” (as in “that violates the law”) fearing that it would cause some students distress. Who knows? Maybe some student might think that they had been violated in some way in the past. That is absurd enough and the article gives some examples that are more absurd.

Mental reasoning has been replaced by emotional reasoning. Emotional reasoning assumes that your negative feelings necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true!” Lord help us! when feelings are the sole basis for interpreting reality. Is this generation being coddled or what? And to think that these young people will someday  be adult babies and will run the institutions of our society. It will indeed be a world of woe.

Here is an excerpt from my book Living Right in a World of Woe which will be released soon:

We have moved from the belief that everyone has an equal right to their own opinions, to the belief that everyone’s opinion is equally right. Everyone determines what is right for them. Everyone is their own god. Everyone is a fool (Ps. 14:1). Evil has become good.

Fifteen years ago we talked in terms of “floating anchors.” The things that held society together and that anchored one’s life to his history and identity were no longer secured to anything. Today the anchor rope has been cut at the boat. There are no anchors wanted. Society is adrift with no destination in mind.

The folly of this twenty-first century culture is that there is no foundation to one’s life. There is only an emotional freefall. There is no family, no love, not even a faithful friend to land on before you reach the total despair of suicide. When the music stops there is silence—nothingness, hopelessness, despair, death. With no music the body has no life because the human spirit has already been killed. It died when God died.

In thirty years the youth of today will be middle-aged. They will have no choice but to continue on with the culture they created and with what they have been doing. They have no traditional family, traditional religion, or traditional culture to return to. The modern church has let them down. Instead of converting youth to be like Jesus Christ, the church is converting Christianity to be like the youth.

I have tried to describe the world we live in here in the twenty-first century, the world that Christians are in but not of; the world and things in it that we are not to love. It is impossible to predict what the world will be like at the end of the twenty-first century, if the Lord tarries. Current culture has no trajectory. What has been described will not apply to, or be the culture of, the small minority who still hold to the Judeo-Christian worldview and who live in obedience to the truths of the Bible. Christians must be prepared to live like a remnant in a culture that has repudiated the foundations of our faith. Living right in a world gone wrong will not be easy.