Sunday, March 30, 2008

Successful Aging by Fred Smith

Having just celebrated another birthday, the following article by the late Fred Smith is particularly relevant to me today.


My interest in aging started with Erik Erikson’s remark: “The challenge of old age is the management of deterioration.” Applying the art of management gives one control over the process. In other words, move the deterioration toward the perimeter of life and focus on the areas of strength and vitality. Avoid the “used to be” syndrome.

Part of the monitoring of successful aging is asking questions. For me, I break the questions into two categories: positive and negative. Of course, these are personalized according to personality, temperament, character, and temptations. For illustration, I am listing some of the questions I ask myself.
  • Love: Where do I fall on the loving scale? How do I avoid benevolent dictatorship?
  • Patience: How patient am I? Do I accept the difference between perfection and excellence?
  • Tolerance: Am I biblically tolerant? Do I know the difference between love and apathy?
  • Unselfishness: How unselfish am I? How do I implement “in honor preferring one another?”
  • Commitment: What is my level of commitment? Am I capable of having passion without crossing into obsession?
  • Flexibility: Can I develop a technique without sacrificing stability and principle?
  • Control: How often do I camouflage this tendency? Do I exhibit dictatorial or victim behavior?
  • Cynicism: Do I discount the current reality by wanting things to stay the same to make me comfortable?
  • Greed: Is my desire an appetite or a fire? A fire is never satisfied.
  • Selfishness: How often do I see others as serving me rather than an opportunity to serve?
  • Concretized: How realistic am I about change?
When I do my self-audit, I ask another person for counsel and accountability. This person must be chosen carefully. We are not looking for a critic; we are looking for a coach.

The end of this process is successful aging…staying young while getting older.

This week think about: 1) What preparations am I making for aging? 2) Who do I know who is getting old, not just older? 3) What questions do I need to ask myself this week?

Words of Wisdom: “Get Older, but Never Old.”

Wisdom from Scripture: “The godly grow like a palm tree: they grow high like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the Lord’s house, they grow in the courts of our God. They bear fruit even when they are old, they are filled with vitality and have many leaves.” (Psalm 92-12-14 NET)

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