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Grow Young, Not Old
August 15, 2008

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Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #111, August 15, 2008

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Grow Young, Not Old

Book Review: True Work: The Sacred Dimension of Earning a Living

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Written by Noel McNaughton
Midlife-Men.com
(c) copyright 2008 midlife-men.com

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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

Several of the men whose stories are featured in the "men's stories" section of midlife-men.com suddenly found their passion for the work they were doing had disappeared. It was as though their work no longer met some inner need for playfulness and creativity.

I have learned this is common at midlife, and we need to pay attention to it.

There are about 850 words in this issue, which should take you about two minutes to read.

Noel

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Grow Young, Not Old

The famous psychologist, Carl Jung believed that "in every adult there lurks a child - an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education' Jung believed that the process of individuation - becoming your own person - constitutes "the only meaningful life." In his view, reactivating one's inner child is the ultimate measure of success; it represents nothing less than a vocation.

Jung himself had a serious midlife crisis. He was a protege of Sigmund Freud, and Freud saw him as the disciple who would carry on his work.

But when Jung was in his forties, he suddenly realized he didn't want to be Freud's disciple. He had his own ideas about psychology, and he needed to follow his own path. He broke with Freud, which was painful for both of them, and set out on a journey of discovery.

I have heard a similar pattern in many men I have talked to. Many ended up changing jobs in midlife, and those who stayed found ways to do their work so it was more fulfilling and less stressful.

Here is a typical story of such a man, from The Third Age: Six Principles for Personal Growth and Rejuvenation after Forty by William A. Sadler, pp 88-89:

Matthew: "I had this strange dream. . . a child looked at me with reproach. I realized I had to take care of the child within me."

Matthew helped me see more clearly the paradox of growing young while simultaneously accepting age and one's own mortality. A fifty-four year-old Canadian educator when I first interviewed him, Matthew told me that he was in the best period of his life: happily married with three talented children; in charge of a distinctive university program supported by grants; recognized for his leadership in his community; in good health and physically active in several sports. To my surprise I learned that if I had interviewed him several years earlier, I would have found him in dire straits:

Matthew: I think I've changed a lot in the past few years. About eight years ago I felt trapped. I could see that everything was going well. My marriage was good, the family was developing, my job was right, and I was in good health. But I started to feel like the floor had been taken away from underneath me.

I was confronting the meaning of my life. What am I doing? What is the purpose of my life? For some reason I felt empty inside. I thought, "If I were to die tomorrow I wouldn't care." What had been so important, my career and my competence, just didn't seem to be enough.

I went to a therapist for about a year. Through this process I discovered that I had been giving too much importance to professional activity and external achievements. I had been ignoring some very important aspects of myself.

In particular, I had neglected my childhood qualities: playfulness, imagination, and creativity. At that time I had this strange dream that kept recurring. I saw a child who looked at me with reproach, as though it was my fault that he was dying. Sometimes the child would be lying in a coffin. I would reach out to embrace him, and then he would revive. Finally, I sensed that I was that child. I realized I had to take care of the child within me. I still have much to learn about this and to allow more time for play, imagination, and reflection.

How are you doing in the 'playfulness' department? Are you taking things more seriously than necessary? Lift your spirits by paying a little more attention to the child within you, in the form of hobbies, spending more time with your kids or grandchildren, or simply relaxing and doing something you like.

The idea is to 'die young - as late as possible'.

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Outside a second-hand shop: We exchange anything - bicycles, washing machines, etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?

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Book Review: True Work

by Justine Willis Toms and Michael Toms, 1998

I have read many books on finding your 'true path', and your 'right livelihood' and they are generally useful, but this is one of the best.

The subtitle of this book is "The Sacred Dimension of Earning a Living", and the authors cover all aspects of looking for and finding work that will satisfy your soul.

They illuminate the principles they describe with stories from their own lives, and those of people they know. Their writing is clear, engaging, and kept pulling me forward, something not all self books are able to do!

If you are feeling stuck, don't like your job, and don't know what else to do, this book might be just the thing.

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Morris, an 82 year-old man, went to the doctor to get a physical. A few days later, the doctor saw Morris walking down the street with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.
The doctor said, "You're really doing great, aren't you?"
Morris replied, "Just doing what you said, Doc: 'Get a hot mamma and be cheerful.'"
The doctor said, "No, no. I said, 'You've got a heart murmur; be careful."

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High gasoline prices can chew a big hole in your wallet. I have been using MPG caps in both my vehicles for about a year, and am getting 10% better mileage in my half ton, and 15% better in my car. Get details of my six-month trial here: Gas Caps. You could save some money too.

**************************************************** I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to noel@midlife-men.com . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.

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Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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