I Just Turned 80: Your Acknowledgment is a Gift!

In my last article, I promised to send you information about making a powerful money affirmation that works. I promise that article will show up in your inbox next week. 

On my 80th birthday this past weekend, I experienced numerous miracles. I want to share one with you. I’ve always thought miracles would wither away at a certain age, like the petals on a once beautiful flower. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Before we go any further, I want to share the quote from Willa Cather’s book,  Death Comes for the Archbishop:

“Miracles rest not so much upon healing power coming suddenly near us from afar but upon our senses being made finer so that, for the moment, our eyes can see and our ears can hear what has been there around us always.” 

The miracles I encountered came from a particular form of energy: relationship! That may sound unusual, so before going further, let’s review the six kinds of energy we use to create our vision of a well-lived life.

  • First, there’s the Energy of Money. Like it or not, this energy runs through almost all our life’s facets. We could spend at least another two hundred pages looking at our relationship with the energy of money. Bottom line: we use this energy to create a well-lived life.
  • The Energy of Time is next. These two energies are easily mixed together. For example, what are the two reasons you’d usually use for not taking a vacation, learning a language, or starting a small business you’d love to own?  Thirty years ago, when I asked someone this question, the usual answer was: “ I don’t have enough money to do it!”  Today, that same question will produce the following: “I don’t have enough time.” Money and time are precious. Today, the Energy of Time is becoming essential to our vision of a well-lived life.
  • The Energy of Physical Vitality is the third energy we’re here to use skillfully! It means having a relationship with your body that guarantees you’ll be here long enough to make the difference you were meant to make. Again, we can waste the Energy of Physical Vitality or use it to be fully present in whatever we encounter. After my 80 trips around the sun, I am more aware of this precious energy so I can participate fully in the dance of life.
  • The Energy of Creativity can be thought of in two ways. First, we use that energy to creatively deal with any obstacle or impediment that comes our way. Second, we use this energy to create the business, artwork, writing, home, or music that fills our hearts. 
  • The Energy of Enjoyment is crucial to the “energy lineup.” Whatever you enjoy doing will grow and prosper in your hands. That’s because you, like everyone else, tend to focus your energy where it lifts your spirits and fosters your imagination. You deserve to enjoy what you’re doing! It’s good for you, and it’s good for whatever you choose to create.
  • The Energy of Relationship is what we’re focusing on here. Everything that exists in physical reality is interrelated. Nothing you can create isn’t interconnected with something else, whether it’s a home, a business, or a health or financial plan. 

When we look more deeply at the Energy of Relationship, it’s easy to see that for human beings to exist with a sense of happiness and well-being, we must be able to be in relationships with others. 

The importance of being in relationship is there for us the moment we’re born. There’s a disease called Marasmus, or wasting disease, in infants who don’t get the amount of attention, holding, and interaction they require to thrive. 

During the 50+ years I’ve been privileged to work with people, either as a psychotherapist or coach, I’ve seen the distress we all experience when meaningful relationships are not going well. While we may not literally “waste away,” we can nevertheless lose our appreciation for other possibilities that may open up. We may doubt our ability to keep social contacts open, thus making it even more challenging to use the six forms of energy mentioned above. However, I’m discovering that, with those of us over 60, relationships take on an even greater importance. 

In the early part of the last century,  a psychoanalytic psychologist named Erik Erikson developed a theory of the stages of psychosocial development. Erikson’s theory suggests that people pass through eight distinctive developmental stages as they grow and change. Many development theories tend to focus purely on childhood events. Erikson was one of the few theorists to look at development across the entire lifespan. He was also one of the first to view the aging process as part of human development.

 In the final stage, experienced by everyone from 65, the conflict is between Integrity and Despair. The challenge is recognizing that one’s life has made a difference versus the despair at discovering it may not have.

I’ve taught coaches the importance of acknowledging and relationship-building with people at this final stage for years. I am now at the receiving end of acknowledgment, experiencing what I’ve been teaching. And I can say, without equivocation, that it is making an enormous difference in my experience of being alive.

Research into the aging process has shown that one of the critical factors in having people retain their cognitive functioning well into late adulthood is being able to be in relationships with younger, brilliant, compassionate people. I’ve experienced that over the past five days. Whether it’s been in person, by email, or by text, I see how the work I’ve been doing has made a discernible difference in their lives. What a miracle it’s been for me! 

I’ve discovered that there are three primary “virtues” that people my age want to experience. I call them The Three “R’s.” Here they are:

  • Resilient: we want to know we can “bounce back” from the inevitable obstacles and trials that almost everyone in this age range experiences. I know I don’t have to enumerate what these challenges are. Suffice it to say they are everything someone living in a “carbon-based life-form” (body) goes through.
  • Relevant: we want to know that we still matter, and that in the arena of public discourse, we still have something valuable to add.
  • Reliable: we want to know that when we promise to do something, we will still do it with Clarity, Focus, Ease, and Grace!

And there you have it! Whenever you want to acknowledge people in general, especially those in that last developmental stage, please include something that refers to any of the Three R’s, and you’ll be giving that person a warm heart and a grateful sigh of relief.  I know. I’m there now.

Love to you all,

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