As a married couple of 30 years Adrian and I took the risky decision to write a book together about growing older. It was clear to us through our career experience working with coaching clients and running workshops that some people have discovered secrets of a happy, longer life. And Covid-19 notwithstanding; we are living longer lives than our grandparents.
Most people coming to our coaching sessions and workshops were worrying about health and money, yet we felt there are more fundamental issues that need addressing first. So we based the book around the metaphor of a tree where the branches are the external things we see and do in life: home, work, money, friends, play, world and so on. The trunk of the tree we see as our health, which supports the branches. But most fundamental are the roots that support everything: attitude, purpose, values and key relationships. After all we know people with no money and poor health who are happy and fulfilled.
Concentrate on the four roots and you’ll have a much better way of dealing with life whatever storms might batter your tree.
Root 1: Attitude: when all’s said and done, attitude is a choice. We heard the story of Roger Bamber who when given a terrible cancer diagnosis asked the specialist nurse what would be the most important thing in his forthcoming treatment – without hesitation the nurse said, ‘your attitude’. And that’s exactly what Roger found, he said the people in treatment who were bitter and resentful and angry were the ones who didn’t survive. Roger’s relentlessly positive attitude has, so far, kept him well.
Root 2: Purpose is about direction. We listened to the story of Trish Cusden who retired from a corporate life to watch daytime TV. When, after a few weeks she realised the highlight of her day was watching Countdown, she started a business on her kitchen table. Look Fabulous Forever is her highly successful makeup brand for older women and it has given her a renewed sense of purpose. However, another person said that merely getting a dog was for them a way of finding purpose.
Root 3: Values are the way we lead our lives. A couple in their mid-50s we met decided to adopt three small children (their own three children having left home). This couple realised that to extend love, costly life-long love to three people in need would be something they could do.
Root 4: Key Relationships: we all need someone to love and be loved by. This doesn’t have to be romantic love, of course, but loneliness is a killer, and keeping a relationship working is crucial. We recommend an annual relationship MOT. After all you service your boiler and car to stop them breaking down, why not do the same with your key relationship?