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New Beginnings

Friday Jul 06 2012

By Jim Selman Bio 

One of the toughest things we ever learn is to ‘let go’.  I can’ t remember all the times I have made resolutions or tried to ‘reinvent’ myself or start over in one way or another. Every time we end a relationship or a job or some deeply ingrained habit (whether voluntary or involuntary) we must confront the break between the certain past and the possible future. And as far as I know there is no way to create and experience a ‘new’ future without letting go of the past.

But what does it mean to let go? 

First we must ask what is ‘there’ to let go of. The past is made up of thoughts, feelings, embodied patterns, beliefs, moods, memories, and habits. Together they comprise the ‘story’ that we’re attached to and is, in most cases, bigger than we are.  It is probably not an accident that we call the past history --- HIS STORY.  So the answer is that what we have to give up to let go of the past is our story --- the nonstop narrative about the ‘way it is’, ‘what it means’ and ‘why everything is the way it is’. 

But letting go of our story isn’t so easy.

The reason letting go can be difficult is that we actually believe that our story is true is the sense that it accurately describes what happened or what caused the present to be the way it is.  If something in our story is not accurate then we believe just as fiercely that it must be false. What is not so evident is that while we can acknowledge poor memory or critique our analysis of why something happened or what it means, we rarely question our mega-belief that the past is the CAUSE of the present and therefore the future. This belief then becomes the basis or our practices of forecasting or predicting what will happen in the future and then organizing our actions and commitments around what we predict will happen.

For example when planning budgets in most organizations, the starting point is to  project a trend to determine what we expect will happen in a year and then based on that forecast, plans are made and resources allocated to achieve a goal given that forecast. The results will inevitably validate the planners assumptions or when they are not forthcoming a plausible explanation of causality anchored in the past is required to keep the process going.

The result of this belief and associated practices is that we are continually living ‘into the past’ that we project as a prediction that in turn makes it virtually impossible to ever really let go of the past. This structure of thinking is tantamount to trying to get out of our own skin.

As we get older we need to appreciate that the more we let go the more time and experience we have left. I think that the key to ageing well and just about everything else in life is the ability to ‘be present’ to be fully ‘in the moment’. When we’re attached to our story or the past we are not present and time is always proportional to the past and how long we’ve lived. That is why a year can be forever for a child and is the blink of an eye for someone who is very old. When we are living in present time, then our experience is not related to anything else and is for all practical purposes ‘timeless’.  As the old proverb goes, we can live one experience ten thousand times or we can have ten thousand experiences.  The key is learning to ‘let go’ so that each day is a ‘new beginning’. 

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging

Tagged with: aging breakthrough conversations go healthy letting living

The End of the Beginning

Monday Jan 02 2012

By Jim Selman Bio 

Ah, January 1st, the new beginning and a chance to finally get it right this year. Or is it?

Perhaps it is the End of the Beginning. When we began as a nation, we were full of hope and idealism. We believed that every person could thrive and prosper if they worked hard and learned from their past mistakes.

Today, can we honestly say we believe that hard work will take us in the direction of our dreams? What happened to us? Where are we going?

[Read More]

Written by eldering at Wisdom in Action

Tagged with: beliefs commitment democracy new year

Can we really take old age one day at a time?

Friday Feb 25 2011

By Jim Selman | Bio
As long as I can remember, people have been telling me to relax, enjoy the moment, smell the roses and just take it easy—to live life one day at a time. That’s a challenge when we’re younger, when we have many goals and not a lot of history under our belt. As we age, we eventually realize we’re not going to accomplish everything. So what happens when we realize there are a lot of expectations we have that will never be fulfilled?[Read More]

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging

Tagged with:

Senior Upset or Elder Equanimity?

Friday Feb 18 2011

By Jim Selman | Bio
I have a friend who is really upset because she feels she was pressured into a particularly large purchase and not appreciated afterwards. It occurs to me that this could be a concern for many single women, especially as they grow older. We read daily of various scams to help older people part with their money. While I don’t think that women are the only ones affected, they do seem to be targeted more often than not. In the case of my friend, the issue wasn’t one of the salesmen being dishonest, but simply not being particularly sensitive to her feelings. Add to this that he was shortsighted in his failure to say "Thank you" appropriately (which could be interpreted as a seeming lack of respect for a senior) and you have an 'upset' waiting to happen.[Read More]

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging

Tagged with:

The Elder

Monday Jan 31 2011

By 2012, 50% of Americans will be over 60. Most of us can expect the gift of an additional 30 years of life.

What will we do with this gift?

Surviving old age is not enough.

[Read More]

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging

Tagged with: book jim_selman marc_cooper the_elder

When It's Work to Go to Work

Monday Jan 10 2011

  By Jim Selman | Bio

I just finished reading a really good ‘how to’ book by Russell Bishop called Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work. This book is today’s best guide for having our work lives work.

[Read More]

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging
Join discussion COMMENTS [1]

Tagged with: living_well russell_bishop workarounds workarounds_that_work

Stand and Be Counted

Monday Nov 01 2010

By Jim Selman | Bio
We've been assaulted lately by political pundits and statisticians telling us what will happen this week. It is easy to roll over and assume they know what they are talking about. So why bother to vote at all? Just sit back and watch the process on TV. This is a particularly easy rationalization for cynics and those who've become resigned that they don't make a difference anyway. Most of the hype and hysteria seems to be aimed at younger voters. It is assumed that we older voters[Read More]

Written by eldering at Leadership

Tagged with: aarp boomer_generation election john_erickson mid-term_elections politics voting

When can we stop working?

Wednesday Sep 15 2010

By Jim Selman | Bio
Stephanie Chen, a writer for CNN, recently published "No Retirement for These Older Folks, Just Work" about older workers and the fact that more and more people have to keep working well beyond their 'retirement age'. For some, this is purely a function of economic necessity. For others, it is a choice. The piece included two examples, a 91-year-old postal worker and a 101-year-old legislative employee who are still going strong. If we're to believe the predictions from Washington DC, everyone is going to be working longer as a function of keeping Social Security solvent.  The examples in Stephanie Chen's article are exceptions that prove the rule that states[Read More]

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging

Tagged with: baby_boomers cnn older_workers play post-retirement relationships retirement retirement_age stephanie_chen unemployment work

What is your opinion...and why do we care?

Wednesday Aug 25 2010

By Jim Selman | Bio
Someone said to me in a meeting yesterday that there are a billion blogs. The number seemed high, so I did what we all do these days. I went to Google and in about 30 seconds of looking at “How many Blogs are there”, I was assured there are closer to 100 million, with about 175 thousand new ones being created every day. So while the billion estimate was a bit exaggerated, it is obvious that there are a LOT of blogs. This got me thinking: why so many?[Read More]

Written by eldering at Fearless Aging

Tagged with: blog conversation difference opinion point_of_view writing

The 3 Rs of Citizenship

Wednesday Aug 11 2010

By Jim Selman | Bio
When I was growing up, you needed to be master the 3 Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) in order to be educated. Today we need to master a new 3 set of ‘Rs’: Rights, Rewards and Responsibilities. When I first started traveling to other countries in the 1970s, the conversation about the USA was always in a context of respect and even admiration—even when criticizing certain aspects. But for the last 10 years or so, I have noticed that the conversations are changing. Fewer people are envious of who we are and our way of life. More and more see us as recalcitrant, self-centered, parochial and unable to recover whatever it was that made us great in the post-WWII years. Most people across the globe have access to the same newspapers, the same media channels and the same websites that we do. The prevailing and unavoidable conclusion being touted from many of these sources: governance in the USA is a mess![Read More]

Written by eldering at Wisdom in Action

Tagged with: 9/11 american_people democracy first_amendment ground_zero_mosque responsibilities rewards rights

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