By Mark Victor Hanson and Art Linkletter
Two unique and unusual men with something in common to say to folks over fifty, something crucial, encouraging, and well worth hearing; that’s how I would describe this good book. In a society that idolizes youth; in a time when many fifty-something workers have been forced into early retirement by the recession, as life expectancy approaches 80, this is an encouraging book to read. Looking into my own future was why I picked it up. My thinking was challenged, my mindset changed and my heart buoyed to approach my “retirement” years differently. (Before I read this book, I would not have used the quotation marks.)
The authors of How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life both exemplify what they are writing about. Art Linkletter, legendary TV host, at the time of the writing of the book was still active at 94 years old. Mark Victor Hanson, then 57, had just climbed Mt. Whitney, and was obviously still purposefully writing, even when he could have comfortably laid back and just enjoyed the profits from his share of the wildly successful Chicken Soup series. They begin by debunking commonly held folk dogma on aging; myths that keep many people from having a productive and happy “second prime.” The authors use the term “sageing” to help us value the facts that as we get older we do gain experience and wisdom and are able to look at life with a broader perspective. I like that concept.
“We believe that sixty is the new forty, the new middle age, because people have a new image of themselves and are living longer than at any time in human history,” Hanson writes in his foreword. Be prepared for a challenge. For me, the chapter on health was a wake-up call. The chapter on purpose was excellent, something I have taught for a long time. “What keeps us moving forward, what gives our lives meaning is purpose. People need purpose.” For practicing Christians, the chapter on spirituality will seem rather watered down, but for someone who has not given God a chance, it may serve as a prod for further thinking.
I recommend this book especially to those like myself who are beginning to think about the down-shifting or re-sizing, or redirecting transitions that usually come to us in our 50’s or 60’s. It will give you a whole new vocabulary and help you extend your “healthspan,” “mindspan” and “lovespan.”