There have been many revaluations over the last century, however none as significant as the Longevity Revolution. This past week was my birthday, which got me reflecting on that thing called, life.
In America, we are living on average 38 years longer than our great grandfathers*. That’s an entire second adult lifetime, added on to our lifespan. Yet, our culture has not yet come to let go of stereotypical slangs like, “blue hair”, “geezer” or “BOOF”. We’re still living with the old perspective of age as an arch; you’re born, you peak at midlife, then you decline into decrepitation. This view stems from the notion that age is merely pathology.
The Longevity Revolution however, has shed light on these last three added decades, some calling it the “third act of life”. Slowly scientists, doctors, and researchers are coming to the realization that this is actually a developmental stage of life with its own significance. As different as midlife is to adolescence, and adolescence to childhood. So what about the average person? What about you?
We should all be asking, how do we make good use of three more decades of life? How do we live the third act successfully?
As you may know one of the fundamental laws of the world is the second Law of Thermodynamics; entropy. Entropy means that everything in the world is in a constant state of decline and decay. There’s only exception to this universal law and that is the human spirit. Take instances of joy: the fall of the Berlin wall, Armstrong walking on the moon, Jackie Robinson joining the major leagues. Now take instances of sorrow: Nine-eleven, fall solders from the invasion of Iraq, the Vietnam War. Both bear stories of heroism, growth, and unity.
Likewise, your spirit can continue to evolve with age into wholeness, authenticity, and wisdom.
So I propose a slight twist in the way we view age. Instead of thinking, “I’ve lived so many years”, look at how many years you have left to make a difference, learn a new skill, or contribute to your community. A 75-years-old female now has 16 more years to do great things. A 60-year-old male now has 24 more years to do great things. Age then turns from pathology, into potential.
What is your "Age of Potential"? You may just have an entire lifetime ahead of you to do and be great.
*Average life expectancy according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
In 2013: 86 female, 84 males
In 1900: 46 female, 48 males