Very recently I came across a great read which has become my 2019 ‘Book of the Year.’ Bolder: Making the Most of our Longer Lives (Knopf Canada, 2018) by Carl Honoré* has not only supported many of the wellness practices I know prepare us to make the most of our second 45+ years, but has also helped me re-examine several elements related to healthful, robust aging that I haven’t yet considered.
Bolder begins with Honoré in a position many of us have found ourselves: suddenly at mid-life and questioning, well… everything. He is 48 years old, deep in the middle of a hockey tournament when he is struck with the realization that, well, he’s not young anymore. In fact, he is the oldest player in the tournament. On the other hand he’s fit, he’s capable, and is one of the best players on any team there. But his realization about his age and his place amongst his hockey peers begins to feed doubt as to “What is age appropriate? Am I out of place here? Are people laughing at me? And should I pursue more gentle pastimes?” As one who has recently faced and tried to answer these very questions, I can attest to the sense of doubt and apprehension inherent in middle age as one realizes that, give or take a few years, the second half of life has begun. The clock is ticking. So, how do we make the most of our longer lives?
Bolder is a thought provoking re-think about many of the assumptions and expectations we tend to have about aging. It provides a compelling read where Honoré weaves personal anecdotes, and a certain degree of personal angst, with stories from robust seniors across the globe. Through an examination of the most recent data on longevity, Honoré deconstructs many of the cultural assumptions we have about aging. He examines many of the negative stereotypes we have about life after middle age and asks whether there is truth in these often troubling tropes, and if so, why? But more importantly, when he finds fault, misinformation, and inconsistencies, he then explores the best practices to avoid many of the purported downsides of senior life. Honoré asks probing questions which serve to support his exploration and presents evidence from experts in the fields of gerontology, statistics, psychology, physiology, economics, medicine, cultural anthropology, sexuality, and more. What makes this book most compelling is that in pursuit of researching and understanding both the realities of aging and advice in support of making the most of our longer lives, he examines some of the fundamentals underpinning humanity. He delves into the foundations of our lives through the lens of mature adulthood. By examining elements such as meaningful work, creativity, romantic relationships including attraction, intimacy and sex, as well as altruism and community, he ultimately zeroes in on key recommendations for what makes for a fulfilling, considered, and mindful longer life.
What I found most convincing is that Honoré doesn’t do this from behind a computer screen cloistered away in his London office. He gets out in the field and travels across Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia in search of longevity outliers, their stories, and the expert evidence behind a revised and surprisingly optimistic vision of senior life. Throughout Bolder, he intertwines the stories of a vast array of robust seniors with interviews and research findings from experts across the scientific and sociology-cultural spectrum. This style seamlessly links the anecdotes and experiences of remarkable individuals with the vetted findings of leading researchers. The result is a powerful and engaging read which can’t help to leave one not only better informed about the realities of present day aging, but better prepared for — and ultimately more optimistic about — fully engaging in one’s ‘Golden Years’. Ultimately, however, the gift that is Bolder is Honoré’s capacity as a writer to convey expertise without arrogance, sensitivity without obsequiousness, and fascination with discovering new insights through his own genuine inquisitiveness and sincere open mindedness. Enjoy!
Michael Patterson, M.Ed.
Lift long and Prosper
Michael Patterson M.Ed, has spent 30+ years as a fitness and health professional. He holds degrees in Physical and Health Education, Psychology, and Education. Find out more about Michael and follow him on his website at www.45andthrive.com, and on Instagram @45andthrive. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
Writer’s note: This is the final column of 45 and Thrive until September 2019 when it will return to its regular twice monthly publication. My hiatus from this column will be spent focused on mindful reflection, re-energizing leisure activities, loving relationships, and sincere gratitude. Thanks to all readers who have followed 45 and Thrive since its launch in January. I look forward to rejoining you in September with further discussion, information and thoughts on finding and maintaining robust longevity. Until then… Lift Long and Prosper!
*Disclaimer: The information provided and discussed in this column is based on my personal experience, studies of physical and health education and my expertise as a lifelong fitness and health professional. Any recommendations made about fitness, training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle, or information provided through this column, should be discussed with your physician or other health-care professional.
*Carl Honoré is an internationally bestselling author, broadcaster, and journalist whose books, In Praise of Slow, Under Pressure, The Slow Fix , and now Bolder, have been published in 34 languages worldwide. Born in Scotland, raised in Canada, and now residing in London, England he is known as the “Voice of the Global Slow Movement” having written extensively about and advocated for more mindful and considered lifestyles. His TED talks have been viewed almost 3 million times. Carl lectures and presents regularly around the world on topics such as Slow Living, Parenting, and Making the Most of Our Longer Lives. http://www.carlhonore.com