01 Dec 2020

Rediscovering Joy and Purpose

Life moves pretty fast. I am reminded of this with a seventieth birthday looming in the New Year.  

Turning seventy is no big deal. Many of us are living longer and are fortunate to have good health. 

The reality is we can rediscover joy and purpose during all sorts of transitions. It’s not just about ‘getting older’.  After years of in depth research, seeking advice and hearing opinions on ageing, I’ve decided it’s time to disembark the ‘age train’.  

Here’s what I uncovered. And, yes, I am still working on some of the findings!

Change and Transitions – We can expect more disruption throughout our lives. Rejection can happen at any age. Upheaval is messy and takes a while to recover from. It also brings an opportunity for a renewed sense of purpose and redirection in later life. 

Working Longer – Nurturing our networks, keeping up with technology and taking care of our health all help our chances of working longer, as does thinking differently about the way we work. 

Meaning and Purpose - We share a fundamental desire to connect with something bigger than ourselves. Being productive is not limited to paid work or parenting.  We can discover a renewed sense of purpose in many ways. 

Our Stories and Others – Stories shape and inspire us. We can reimagine and rewrite our own story to lead a more fulfilling life. We can also be inspired by the stories of individuals who overcome adversity and challenges in life.

Interconnectivity and Choices -  With better technology we are able to connect locally and globally and share experiences with like-minded souls. We can choose how to spend our time and who with.

Switching off to Reconnect – I am amazed by how much more free time I have on tech-free days. The gift of more time allows me to reconnect with myself and nature, and for more creativity.

Giving Back and Generativity – I have more time for giving back which brings greater rewards. Two-way intergenerational mentoring helps overcome ageist thinking as we learn from each another. 

Shared and Solo Adventures – Shared experiences enhance my enjoyment of the outdoors. And yet, sometimes spending time alone is the best way to reconnect with nature and who I am. 

Lifestyle and Moderation –  It is very reassuring to discover a bit of extra padding comes in handy, especially if you get sick. Modest coffee and alcohol intake might also help. (Moderation is not my strong point!) The same research suggests that vitamin supplements have very little impact.

Activity and Stillness – My philosophy is to keep moving every day.  Exercising for 45 minutes a day brings maximum gains, including strength building. I also benefit from meditating and practicing gratitude each day.

Being Bold and True to You – As we age we are less concerned about how others see us. We can let go of self-limiting beliefs, rediscover our true purpose in life and what difference we want to make. 

And for those still concerned about ageing … The anti-ageing industry is making millions out of our preoccupation with looking younger. Too much emphasis on ageing is self-limiting. This is not a communicable disease. Our attitudes matter more than our birth date. 

As Mary Oliver says: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”   


Mary Somervell

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