What life lessons can older people teach us?
The old and elderly are probably the most qualified authority on life lessons. They acquire this knowledge through the perspective of living a full life while looking back at its end. If you are familiar with my Abyss theory of life, you will see this is the clear perspective of having risen to new plateaus while being able to look back on life and the lessons learned at the lower levels. What most people don’t realize is all these life lessons involve learning about ourselves, specifically they are lessons in choosing between the ego and spirit.
In reviewing many “Top Ten List” of life lessons learned from the elderly I have compiled a list of common advice. The common thread to all this advice is personal truths about our own growth in life. If you examine each more closely they are lessons about subduing the ego and aligning one’s self to our spiritual side. Taking seven of the most common life lessons, we will examine how they relate to ego and spirit.
Life lessons #1 – Stop worrying about what other people think and be yourself.
The ego is forever trying to protect us and part of that protection is portraying an image we think will impress others. The fact is anyone we allow to get close to us will figure out quickly what is real and what is fake. The ego is always trying to portray an image it thinks will attract others. The irony is we turn people off and push people away when we are not authentic, vulnerable and genuine. Spirit is comfortable with who we are. Spirit accepts everything as it is and everything as perfect. From a spiritual standpoint we have no need to impress anyone, we only seek to connect with others by being truthful, genuine and vulnerable about who we are.
Life lessons #2 – Don’t take things personally
Here again the ego is trying to protect us. We think people are out to hurt us or attack us and therefor we take things personally. The fact is everyone is different, everyone responds to things differently. The ego is hyper vigilant in assessing any disagreement or difference of opinion as a form of personal attack. Spirit recognizes everyone is living out their own experience and creating their own reality. We eventually learn not to get personally offended by another person’s choice of how they wish to interpret reality. Hopefully we eventually respect everyone’s right to exercise their free will as they see fit. We can never know what people are supposed to experience in their own life. We can only contemplate and control what we are supposed to experience and learn in our own life. (see previous post – Self Control Lessons)
Life lessons # 3 – Nurture your relationships
Most old people will tell you that friends and family multiply the joy in life. The only one way to experience this unity with others is to subdue the ego. (See post “Unity or Isolation.”) The ego is divisive and judgmental; it always wants it’s way. It will always find disagreement with others or it will seek allegiances and pit itself against others. This is not conducive to long term relationships or family unity. One begins to learn this as they look back on their life and realize how many relationships were destroyed due to the ego. Long term relationships can only survive and grow through nurturing and caring. These are attributes of the spirit. Unity with others is a spiritual attribute where the ego must be put aside for the greater harmony of all. Long term relationships become a deep well one can drink from during life, especially during hard times.
Life lessons # 4 – Discover and pursue your passion in life
To be truly passionate about something is to lose yourself in the activity. Here we are utilizing every spiritual gift we have in pursuing our passion. There is a great joy in pursuing our passion and we seem to draw strength, power, creativity and stamina from outside ourselves. We seem to plug into an energy source that is not wholly our own. This is the animation or expression of spirit. The ego would have us work long hours for the sake of making money or for fame or to gain power over others. Eventually we will grow tired in pursuing work of this sort. When we are following our passion, we are not really working. No one on their deathbed has ever wished they would have worked harder or worked more hours.
Life lesson # 5 – Life is too short for grudges, anger and hate
Anger, hatred and grudges are clear attributes of the ego. These feelings result from from judging the actions of others. The ego believes everyone should act exactly as we want them to act, when they don’t, then we experience these feelings. These traits of the ego cause nothing but pain. This pain however is our own, it does not hurt those we are angry with or those we hate, it only hurts our self. Hate, anger and judgment are the poisons that kills peace, happiness, joy and unity. Spirit is all about unity, love, peace and joy. There is no room for judgment, hatred and anger.
Life lesson # 6 – Don’t spend your time worrying about things
Fear and worrying is a favorite pastime of the ego. At the end of life we realize all worrying was a waste of time. The worst we feared either never happened or we dealt with it adequately when the situation finally arrived. The old adage of what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger applies. The ego is filled with fear and as people mature and grow older, spirituality eventually takes its place. Old people no longer fear death and in fact some look forward to the relief it will provide at the end of a long life. Many realize life is a gift and needs to be savored every day. Spirit knows life is eternal and there is no such thing as death. There are only lifetimes of experience for the purpose of growing our soul.
Life lesson # 7 – Stop and smell the roses, or in modern terms learn mindfulness
In a direct correlation to the lesson above, old people realize that happiness does not come from any single lifetime event or even many single events. Happiness is an “in the moment” realization. Happiness is derived from a sense of contentment, presence and gratitude. (See post “Uncovering Happiness.”) It comes from enjoying the smallest of experiences; conversations, helping others, seeing people smile, being mindful and enjoying the activity at hand. This can be enjoying: nature, enjoying the sounds we are able to hear, the things we are able to touch, the flavors we are able to taste, the sights our eyes allow us to see. The ego has moments of satisfaction and happiness that never last. The spirit relishes in the act of experience and being. The ego is never in the present moment. The ego is either ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, it is never present unless it is judging and there is no joy, happiness or contentment in judging.
Life lessons are choices between ego and spirit
If you closely examine the advice of those near the end of a long life you will find their lessons involve subduing the harmful effects of the ego while inviting a more spiritual approach to life. As people age they shift their influence from the ego to more of the spiritual. This should not be a big surprise because we eventually learn all the pain that accompanies following our ego. We learn we become more and more isolated the more we utilize our ego. We strain our relationships and our families become distant because of the ego. At some point we eventually learn to subdue our ego, life then takes on a more harmonious flow. Relationships become easier, families become closer and we stop stressing about what the future may hold. Hopefully we don’t have to wait till our later years to learn this lesson. This life lesson is available to us early in life if only we have the wisdom to listen, contemplate, and understand.
Applying the lesson:
- Is there such a thing as fooling those that are closest to you? In other words can you pretend to be something you are not in your most intimate relationships, family and friendships?
- What is the purpose of trying to impress other people?
- Can you see when you take things personally you can only do so by interpreting another persons motives and actions. Surely we can see another persons behavior is a reflection of them, not a reflection of us.
- Do you realize in order to have close relationships we must be willing to give and be nurturing towards another person. The moment we feel the other person should be doing more for us is the beginning of the end of the relationship.
- Do you know what you are passionate about in life?
- Do you feel happy or at peace when you are angry or hate someone?
- Can you see how everything you have ever worried about either never happened or you managed to deal with it when the time came? Did worrying about it make things better or make you happier?
- Can you see that happiness lies in the small everyday occurrences in life? Can you see that happiness is really a state of mind achieved through personal inner work and reflection about life?
It is my hope in visiting this website you will eventually understand the difference between your ego and your spiritual essence. Once you understand this difference making the choice to subdue the ego and accentuate the spiritual will be an easy choice, because one brings pain and the other brings joy, happiness and peace.
Please share if you found this post to be meaningful. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts… Thank you for reading : )