Qualities of Successful and Unsuccessful Aging

Excerpted from: “What are you doing with the rest of your life?” By Paula Payne Hardin, Ed.D., MPS; Research base: Dissertation study; a large sample (N-567) national survey (Market Facts, Chicago); and other sources.

Excerpted from: “What are you doing with the rest of your life?”
By Paula Payne Hardin, Ed.D., MPS; Research base: Dissertation study; a large sample (N-567) national survey (Market Facts, Chicago); and other sources.

PEOPLE WHO ARE MATURING POSITIVELY HAVE THESE ATTRIBUTES:

1. They have evolved a generous view of others and of the world, which includes maintaining a forgiving stance towards faults and inadequacies in themselves and others.

2. They have a giving attitude toward themselves and others. They give more financially than do most people.

3. They form a caring and positive relationship with nature. They are concerned about the quality of the environment that will be passed on to the future generations.

4. They are reflective and seek self-understanding.

5. They have had a pivotal event(s) that led to transition or rebirth experiences. Everyone has such events, but generative people use them positively while non-generative people withdraw and blame others for their misfortunes.

6. They simplify their lives. Generative people take time to gain the insights needed to clear away clutter and confusion. They learn to set limits.

7. They have the courage to change both themselves and conditions around them.

8. They describe themselves as spiritual. They trust God or some Higher Power, and they trust the life process.

9. They are sought out by others for counsel, wisdom, perspective, and creative insight.

10. They are committed to continued learning. Generative people often spend considerable time learning on their own or attend a variety of workshops or classes.

11. They are clearly engaged in caring behaviors toward themselves and others.

12. They evolve healthy eating and exercise patterns.

13. Laughter and tears come easily and spontaneously.

14. They are hopeful people. They take their dreams seriously, and their lives demonstrate that some dreams do come true.

THOSE CAUGHT IN SELF-ABSORPTION AND STAGNATION WILL INCREASINGLY MANIFEST SUCH PERSONALITY AND CHARACTERISTICS AS:

1. A tendency to blame others for problems, and feelings of isolation.

2. A tendency to alienate other people. Those aging unsuccessfully are difficult to be with for more than a brief time.

3. Moodiness, irritability, thoughtlessness, low vitality, chronic anger, despair, meanness of spirit.

4. Clinging to rigid opinions, unable to set them aside long enough to listen to another’s views or experiences. They don’t allow certain people or topics to be mentioned and those around them are careful not to share delicate or intimate subjects.

5. An inability to enjoy and adapt to the changing world.

6. A need to hang on to money.

7. An increasing obsession with life’s inequities and their own wounds.

8. A noticeable lack of intimate friends of any age.

9. A high use of alcohol, tranquilizers, or other forms of escape, such as TV, frenetic activities, etc.

10. The inability to be a “wise elder,” who has something of lasting value to give to others.

11. A tendency to create guilty feelings in others.

12. An excessive focus on themselves, especially on their health problems and body functions.

13. Fears of the future.