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A New Kind of Strengh for Those Over 50

older hands

I’ve begun preparing a series of stories for this blog on people over 50 in the arts, and I’m hoping some of you readers will consider letting me interview you–even if you don’t consider yourself an artist.

For years I’ve been reading about the arts, stories, and aging, but I recently read a book called From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in Second Half of Life. The writer, Arthur Brooks, really got my attention, opening my eyes to the value we “older” people have to offer. 

What I found was a hidden source of anguish that wasn’t just widespread but nearly universal among people who have done well in their careers. I came to call this the “striver’s curse”: people who strive to be excellent at what they do often wind up finding their inevitable decline terrifying, their successes increasingly unsatisfying, and their relationships lacking. The good news is that I also discovered what I was looking for: a way to escape the curse.

(Brooks, From Strength to Strength, xiv)

Arthur Brooks Book

One of the things I learned reading Brooks is that while part of our cognition slows, another part grows–our ability to apply what we’ve learned and offer wisdom for life. Another thing he stresses is embracing our weaknesses to connect better to people.

Instead of denying change in your abilities, you can make the change itself a source of strength. Instead of trying to avoid decline, you can transcend it by finding a new kind of success… a deeper form of happiness than what you had before; and, in the process, true meaning in life—maybe for the first time…

A word of caution, though: This path means going against many of your striverly instincts. I’m going to ask you not to deny your weaknesses but rather to embrace them defenselessly. To let go of some things in your life that you worked hard for—but that are now holding you back

(Brooks, xvi).

In the coming weeks, I will be summarizing Brooks and proposing some ways 50+ people can help each other. I hope it leads to some face-to-face gatherings in the Central Ohio area.

Reading From Strength to Strength gave me a desire to contribute to the art and 50+ communities by telling their stories and showing the art in their stories.

I suppose what I’m looking for is how people have found “beauty in the brokenness”–the brokenness of the world and the brokenness of our soul. Sadly, for some life is either a cynical “nothing but brokenness” or “all good/beautiful,” which avoids facing pain and trauma.

I am interested in how making art has a connection with suffering and healing, how making is a way of telling your story, and of course a way of blessing others.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

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