In a PBS’ Next Avenue article titled “Miss Manners Blames Boomers for Ruining Aging,” writer Deborah Quilter excerpts from the new Miss Manners: On Unabashed Aging book about some ways we Baby Boomers denigrate the natural aging process. In her book, Miss Manners bemoans Boomers’ obsession with discussing, keeping, looking, being perceived, etc. as youthful. This article talks about what we Boomers should say if we are offered a seat on a bus or being called “mister” or “ma’m” by a younger person; our using and wanting others to use “you look great” and “young at heart;” and of course, our seeking elective cosmetic surgery.
But what Miss Manners and the article writer don’t mention is what we have found as the best way to stay and feel youthful: giving back to the world around you. Feeling useful gives us the satisfaction of seeing our impact plus the personal feedback of watching the beneficiaries of our projects. Whether by purely volunteering in your community or in a paid encore career, the good feelings received from this “work” often outweigh any of the efforts needed by these commitments.
Obviously our experience living and working in Africa, about which we wrote our book, were life-transforming for us. We found that spending a lot of our time with and mentoring younger colleagues compounded the impact our work on the youth-oriented projects. Both made it easier to “feel young.” But even more importantly, this usefulness gave our experience deep meaning.
So my advice: stay useful to feel youthful. And of course, buy our book From Silicon Valley to Swaziland: How One Couple Found Purpose & Adventure in an Encore Career. Our author royalties are donated to TechnoServe’s Business Solutions to Poverty, which improve the lives of families and communities in Africa, Latin America and India. Then write a positive review!