In modern society, we often undervalue the process of becoming older and instead focus on the end, of ‘being old’. The reservoir of knowledge that comes with time is one of the many values of aging.
There are many misconceptions and stigmas about aging. Unfortunately, these can prevent younger people from understanding the wisdom that comes with getting older.
As there are increasing numbers of older people in our society, new conversations have unfolded about the process of becoming older, including what it feels like and how it shapes the aging experience. These conversations are incredibly important as they demonstrate a person’s lived experience or human heritage, is a form of wisdom.
Cultivating the wisdom of aging requires a commitment to understanding the person and an investment in learning about the knowledge and experience they have acquired. Here are some ways you can learn from or with an older person, in order to cultivate wisdom:
- Try unfamiliar things. Each time you try something unfamiliar you are opening yourself to learning or a growth mindset.
- Face your fears and do the uncomfortable. Look for things that challenge you and find meaningful growth in the experience.
- Talk to people with different perspectives or life experiences. Listen closely to the hardships, triumphs these will teach you about perspective, kindness and compassion.
- Pursue education. Purposely choose exposure to organized and well-researched points of view.
- Read. Use this quiet time to process and reflect on what you have learned.
- Lead with a beginner’s mind. Keep your mind open and curious.
- Review cause and effect. Being able to see patterns and linkages requires time for reflection.
- Slow down. Develop skills in meditation and mindfulness.
Interested in learning more about cultivating wisdom? Check out the Change Maker Academy.
These are some of the techniques we explore in our work as gerontologists. Although often misinterpreted as the study of older adults, gerontology is the study of aging.