Creating a Positive Senior Mindset Part 2

Article by Dr. Michael Tobin

Creating a Premium Mindset Part II

Around 5:30 this morning, I was awakened by volcanic disturbances erupting from the region of my lower intestines. “Of course, this must be cancer,” I thought, quickly ruling out the more logical possibility that those annoying rumblings might have more to do with a half pound of sharp cheddar colliding with a somewhat lactose-intolerant, digestive system.

But then again, how could it be cancer? I have four more treks planned over the next two years, great expectations and plans for Gurfein & Tobin, a novel and a non-fiction book on my to-do list, and a bunch of grandchildren that are eagerly learning “Vashigaloupe,” our invented language, whose meaning is derived from moment to moment, voice modulations and gestures that only a crazy grandfather and free-spirited children can understand.

It can’t be! (Cancer that is.)

I’m a Premium; I’m not ready to die, fade away, be irrelevant, or be described with that atrocious, demeaning, and ageist term, “still.” Like: “Still crazy after all these years.” “Still treks;” “Still runs;” “Still works;” “Still remembers;” “Still does it,” (whatever it might mean).

So, what’s the mindset of a Premium, and how do you create it, cultivate it, and nurture it? Let’s use the above definition and deconstruct it word by word to fully understand who we Premiums are:

Be active

Premiums do things: we move, cook, read, travel, learn, teach, guide, make love, cultivate ideas and positions, opine, relate, feel, think, experience, fight and forgive, care about ourselves and others. In other words, we Premiums are on the go, albeit somewhat slower than yesterday (“still” moving), but moving into the future nevertheless.

Be curious

We Premiums are eager to learn, and we have the life experience and home-grown wisdom that enables learning to be personal, relevant, and applicable.

We have the great, good fortune to have been born before Siri, Google, Facebook, and Instagram so we “still” know that “instant knowledge” like “instant connections” or “instant wealth” are all oxymorons. And Siri, as polite as she is, and, as much as she may be an access to quick facts, is clueless with this question, “Hey Siri, my grandson is being bullied. What can I do about it?”

What’s real learning if it doesn’t lead to wisdom? And what’s real wisdom if it’s not based on the accumulated experiences of a life lead by curiosity, desire, and growth? So, we Premiums are the ideal learners: We don’t accumulate facts; we digest and process information and convert it into pragmatic knowledge, i.e., applied wisdom.

So be curious and learn to cook Indian cuisine, or learn to code, or learn creative writing, or learn what the Buddha meant when he said, “To be yourself is to forget yourself, to be open to all things,” or learn what Michelangelo meant when asked what the secret to David’s magnificence was, answered, “I discarded everything that wasn’t David.”

Be exceptionally young-at heart

This takes some explanation because the word “young” is misleading. I absolutely don’t advocate the idea that ageing well means feeling young, because to feel young means you have to think young. And, I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is think the way I thought when I was young – impulsive, grandiose, and self-absorbed. I prefer the thinking cultivated by years of experience rather than the thinking driven by an indiscriminate hunger for any kind of experience.

Young-at-heart means being open without judgement, knowing how to let go and move on, being focused on the here and now, taking delight in your grandchild’s first step, letting go of your preconceptions and absorbing yourself in a foreign culture, feeling deep satisfaction from connecting with your adult children, or feeling thrilled at summiting a mountain that someone your age isn’t supposed to climb.

Cultivate innovation and personal evolution

The famous Premium, Bob Dylan, said it very well, “He who is not busy being born is busy dying.” As long as you’re growing, you’re “still” living. Or, as long as your ideal future is still populated by visions of accomplishments, both inner and outer, then you’re cultivating innovation and personal evolution. You can proudly call yourself “a work in progress”. Put another way, personal evolution is as much about “discarding everything that’s not you” as it is about actively working on developing a better you.

Be a connoisseur of experience

The tagline at Gurfein & Tobin is Experience is Everything. The problem with accumulating experiences is that it can be just like the pursuit of money, i.e., it’s never enough. You have $5 million so you need $10 million; you’ve been to London, Paris and Rome, but that’s not good enough. What about Prague, Berlin, and Venice?

So, a Premium isn’t a collector of experiences, he’s a connoisseur of each experience. The connoisseur savors, lets the taste linger, focuses on the bold and subtle flavors. He asks, “What did I learn?” “In what way did this experience transform me?”

As an example, here’s a piece of wisdom I had the privilege to receive from the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. We were 18,000 feet trekking on snow and ice, traversing a pass where a slip could be fatal. At that height and in those conditions, fear is your biggest danger. Fear focuses your mind on what will be. To trek with ease and grace, you have to be fully present and know exactly where to place your feet and poles. When you’re in that mindset, there’s no danger, there’s only movement, step by step, second by second.

What I took from that experience was an understanding about choice and responsibility. Rarely in life do we get immediate and concrete feedback on the choices we make. Even more so we often make decisions unconsciously, by default, or under pressure. From this experience I learned that the simple and often mindless task of where we place our feet, in the mountains, has the gravity of an existential decision.

As a Premium, I discovered something about gratitude, personal responsibility, and the exquisite pleasure of being in the moment.

So, we invite you to join us in celebrating and discovering the joy of the Premium lifestyle, a lifestyle that cultivates innovation, personal evolution, and a profound desire to learn from each and every experience.

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