Some of the most profound growth of our lives can happen in the home stretch, the years after age sixty or so. It’s a time when we can finally crystallize the meaning of what we’ve been and done so far and fully expand into the self we’ve always intended to be, guided by the voice of the soul. But, says psychologist Charles Garfield, that can only happen if we first loosen the grip of the life we’ve led so far, the one that’s been focused outwardly—on activity, achievement, and the idea of success—and let our souls lead the way.
In Our Wisdom Years, he skillfully and practically guides readers through nine tasks that can transform the struggles of aging, bringing fulfillment, joy, and serenity. Drawing on the understandings that come from both his work as acclaimed “success guru” in the 1980s and the truths distilled from long-term work with those at the end of life, Garfield offers a fresh, uplifting vision of the wholeness that awaits us in our wisdom years.
Our Wisdom Years is unique among books in the “conscious aging” genre in its understanding of how challenging it can be to make the shift from the ubiquitous values of drive and achievement that infuse our contemporary “success culture” to the inner orientation that gives richness to later life. Because of that, Garfield is well positioned to offer considerable expertise on retirement, its inner challenges for people leaving the work force, and the promise of transformation that can come with a turn from a focus on achievement to a focus on satisfaction.
Filled with the author’s insights and life experiences, the reader is taken through the nine tasks of transformation. Dr. Garfield shares how we can gracefully let go of the younger selves we’ve been and walk through the opening that keeps beckoning toward this soul-driven version of later life. He encourages us to take the risk of being fully alive as our years pass. This is no small task—aging is not for the faint of heart! The beautiful paradox of growing older is that none of the gifts of age are available without the kind of loss that forces us to confront mortality in a way we can’t deny. In the face of loss, we’re changed and expanded by truths that come from the heart, not the mind. We learn that we’re more than our bodies, part of something much larger than we are; that love and kindness matter most of all.