Our midlife years can be immensely fruitful and unhindered by a crisis.
Elliott Jaques did a ton of valuable work from midlife until his death at age 86 in 2003. He wrote 12 books, including two in the last two years of his life, consulted to the U.S. Army, the Church of England, and various companies.
Ironically, Jaques was also the Canadian psychoanalyst who coined the term “midlife crisis” in 1965.
Jaques’ productivity through midlife sheds light on how to avoid a crisis.
Remain productive. Always have a purpose greeting you with the sunrise. Your employer may be done with you at 65 years old or 30 years tenure, but the world still needs you.
I’m 56, and many acquaintances have retired with nothing planned beyond their wife’s honey-do lists. Depending on their wives, that list may be never-ending, like the ocean’s tide. Yet, they still need a higher purpose to survive midlife without a crisis.
More than banging a white ball around 18 holes, more than bagging a 10-pointer, more than browsing stocks for your retirement portfolio. Those activities are okay for part of your day, but God has you on this planet for higher purposes, even now.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14
You have gifts, skills, talents, experience, wisdom, life lessons, and time that a desperate and depraved world needs. And the paradox is your good health, vitality, and happiness depend on exercising them.
Studies on How to Thrive in Midlife
One study shows that having a strong purpose in life contributes to better physical health for older adults.
Another study found that having a sense of purpose in life was linked to better cognitive functioning.
A study titled, Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood, by Patrick L. Hill and Nicholas A. Turiano found that having a purpose in life is associated with living longer.
Here’s the interesting part.
A sense of purpose can be self-focused – status, wealth, power, fame, etc., or purpose can be directed toward “improving the lives of others, building a better community, or teaching what they’d learned to others.” Being motivated by either purpose has benefits – both give you reasons to get out of bed on Monday mornings.
Yet, another study by Hill suggests that having goals centered around helping others rather than solely focusing on personal gain can lead to greater well-being and a sense of purpose in the long run. This argument is supported by a study entitled, Volunteerism and Mortality among the Community-dwelling Elderly, by Doug Oman et als, which suggests that volunteering, also termed “selfless service,” promotes longevity. The last statement in the study states, “If the present results are sustained, then volunteerism has the potential to add not only quality but also length to the lives of older individuals worldwide.”
God knows the findings of these studies to be true.
Serving Others Benefits All, says God
“Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25.
“Those who are gracious to the poor lend to the Lord, and the Lord will fully repay them.” – Proverbs 19:17
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion — packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing — will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.” – Luke 6:38
“A man reaps what he sows.” –Galatians 6:7
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35
God Didn’t Create You for a Midlife Crisis
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Your good works don’t cease when you retire. In fact, with your wisdom, experience, and newfound time, midlife can be your best life. Multiple studies reveal that living a life of purpose, especially one directed toward helping others is a proven strategy for living a longer, happier, and healthier life. Such a life is also one that God rewards.
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