Seeking Wholistic Wellbeing through our elders
I can’t help noticing how things have changed during COVID times and how business needs the energy, creativity, and passion of the young but also the reassuring hand and wisdom of our elders. It is easy to think everything is new and older generations are irrelevant. But do not be too quick to dismiss them: they have ascended to the top of the hierarchies which we spend our lives climbing.
Imagine that you have been given a project to manage that you feel is your own. But you hit an obstacle. You may ask an elder for advice but you still want to do it your way. It’s unique, or so you think, so you reject advice from an elder, as it may seem patronizing or annoying. But maybe you can begin to differentiate between the way it is said and what was actually said; to toss out our egos in favor of external wisdom.
We may regard elders as irrelevant to our project, but if we just allow ourselves to accept them and listen, we can go a little deeper. Our elders have known childhood, youth, and adulthood. They have lived through life’s journey and although an elder may at times seem naive and distant, this may be because they are further along the track than we are, and therefore less perturbed by life’s joys and disappointments. Perhaps they have found stillness in a way that younger minds and bodies can only yearn for.
The elderly often sleep at more reasonable hours, eat better food, laugh more, appear to worry less (although their burdens and responsibility may be quite heavy), respond to (and give) small acts of kindness. And if they can also seem cynical or unsympathetic, it’s often because they’ve learned to process emotions in a calm, collected way, and lead their lives not by impulse and reactivity, but by reason and proactivity. What can come across as bitterness is actually knowledge, self-control, and self-love.
Our elders have been through more than us and developed corresponding levels of compassion and empathy. They also have absorbed and practiced life’s navigational skills, gaining the expertise which they impart to us, and can therefore point out our weaknesses and foibles and identify ways we may improve and direct our abundant energy toward areas of the growth and wellbeing that I am concerned with, as a seeker of Wholistic Wellbeing.
As I feel my calling is to democratize Wholistic Wellbeing, I want to highlight how important it is to include older people in our lives wherever possible: they often feel left behind and unwanted, and the kindness we show them by involving them in our lives will be amply repaid in the wisdom their impart to us. And by including our elders in such a way, we empower them to transcend arbitrary boundaries between age groups: indeed, we are only ever as old as we feel. Your grandma might relish in the salacious gossip you would normally tell a friend; your university professor might enjoy going to see a football match with you and his other students. You see, although age may change our bodies and physical capabilities, we squander the expertise and experience of the elderly at our peril. People of all ages are to be treasured.