What does it mean to grow older? Are you the same person you were twenty years ago? Would you want to be the same person? I’ve been reading Frederic Hudson’s The Adult Years: Mastering the Art of Self-Renewal. I like his definition of self-renewal: “staying at our best—body, mind, and spirit—throughout life’s long years, day by day.” The following list of basic qualities shared by self-renewing adults is excerpted from Hudson’s book.
Ten Qualities of Self-Renewing Adults
1. They are value driven. Renewal is not mere responsiveness to change; it is the repeated revival of the central concerns of their lives within the changing contexts in which they find themselves.
2. They are connected to the world around them. Self-renewing people stay connected to the world around them. They seek out friends . . . they listen and empathize with life everywhere . . . they care and communicate. The world belongs to them and they belong to the world.
3. They require solitude and quiet. They have private lives that they nurture and love. They have regularly scheduled times when they withdraw from routines to spend time alone. They honor their inner life and outer boundaries.
4. They pace themselves. They schedule episodic breaks from their routine time, such as travel, holidays, vacations, retreats, seminars, theatre, sports activities, sabbaticals.
5. They have contact with nature.Much of adult life is spent away from natural forces—in buildings and settings that insulate us from powerful renewal readily available to us. Yet there are few among us who could not spend a half hour each day in some natural environment—to look and smell and listen.
6. They are creative and playful. Rather than sitting on the sidelines to watch the world go by, they pursue ways to express themselves. They like to exercise, explore, and experiment. They indulge in humor and are able to laugh at themselves.
7. They are adaptive to change. They look for habits to give up and better ones to begin. They pay attention to what they are doing, how they are feeling, and whether they should change. They are caringly evaluative about their lives.
8. They learn from down times. Like the lives of most people, their lives are sometimes full of funk and disorientation. They do not live lives without stress, failures, mistakes, loss, and tragedy. But they know how they lived through down times earlier in their lives, and they feel confident that they can live and learn through the days ahead.
9. They are always in training. Self-renewing people never stop learning. When the world presents a problem they first assume that they can master it through new training. Learning is an attitude toward facing the unknown.
10. They are future-oriented. They do not dishonor the past or the present, but they focus their lives on the “not yet” and the “what if?” They live conscious lives today, with intentionality for tomorrow.