Ears or Eyes

Ears or Eyes

Are you a person who loves to experience life primarily from what you see OR what you hear? Your preference may give you important clues about how you learn best. Some people are visual learners. Others are auditory. You may like being hands-on. If you favor activities and touch, you may be a kinesthetic learner. The way young children eagerly grasp for objects demonstrates tactile learning. One of these styles is not better than the other. Still, it is important to identify your personal style. I’ve known people who are exceptionally bright, though they underperformed in school. Later they found that their actual difficulty was with the way they were being taught. It didn’t match their learning style.

Recognize which approach is natural for you. Then, stress that learning style to experience and enjoy life. You may respond well to a blend of more than one style. If you have an auditory bent, as I do, I have a free resource for you at the end of this posting.

Though my wife reads extensively, her preferred style of learning is tactile. She doesn’t absorb information well from print or sound alone. She wants to interact with new information. In church, for instance, she takes extensive notes during sermons, but not so she will have written records, rather she finds that writing helps her absorb ideas. Another way I see her kinesthetic orientation is that painting is her creative recreation. I’m different. I enjoy spoken words. I like interviews on the radio. I prefer hearing an audiobook to reading the same words in print. When you were in school, how did you learn best? Did you get more from reading assigned books, lectures, or projects? Which method communicates best with you? When you know which method of learning appeals most to you, you become more interested in gaining knowledge and skills as long as they are presented in the format you need.

The Christian missionary movement pays particular attention to learning styles. Missionaries need to know how to communicate cross-culturally in order to provide education, spiritual care, and other services. Estimates are that between 70 and 80% of the world’s people are oral preference learners. Granted, a large portion of the world’s people are young children and semi-literate adults who cannot read well. Just the same, even among educated adults, many prefer hearing information over getting it from print.

I have a vested interest in the subject of how people like to learn because I’m eager to communicate what I’ve discovered about how to thrive during the mature years of adulthood. I have written the book THRIVE in RETIREMENT. Many people have been effusive saying it was both very helpful and fun reading. The book is available both in PRINT and on KINDLE. For those who find activities to be an energizing way to embrace new thinking, the content is available as a six-session STUDY GROUP CURRICULUM or as a ONE-DAY WORKSHOP.

For anyone who likes hearing stimulating ideas, THRIVE is also available as an AUDIOBOOK. Because of the growing interest in this significant new stage of life, I’m giving frequent interviews. Here’s a free audio introduction to thriving as an older adult.

Dr. King on Aging

Dr. King on Aging

My morning today took me in an unexpected spontaneous direction. Since this is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday, I decided to take a few minutes to look back through some of Dr. King’s speeches and other quotes. I’d read many before, but this review became so captivating that it stretched on for hours.

Certainly one of the most eloquent people in recent times, Dr. King was also a profound thinker. I noticed in many of his comments that he did something we rarely see these days. He described his private thought processes, how he arrived at his strongest convictions. Here’s one example from his autobiography where he told of his inner deliberations.

  “As a young man with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” 

Comments like that cause me to stop and reflect. What little gods tempt me to follow them? How much Is the real God dominant in my thinking and life? The great issues of life are decided in our private thoughts. What a gift that Dr. King was so self-revealing about his personal thoughts.

He was certainly an intelligent man, in addition to being well-spoken. One of the interesting facts I discovered while reading about him today was that he began college at age 15. Later he won the Nobel Peace Prize. What, however, surpasses his intellect and fame in my estimation is his wisdom. He was a man overflowing with insights and values. Too often these days, we demote values to mean little more than a few hot-button political positions. Authentic values are far more. They are deep inside us, motivate us, and direct our lives.

While wading through hundreds of quotes, I was impressed by how much good counsel Dr. King had about aging and life purpose. These are the primary themes of my new book that comes out next month.

His life was cut short when he was murdered at age 39, yet despite his limited years, Martin Luther King, Jr. had sage advice about long life for those of us fortunate enough to have longevity. Consider these remarks by Dr. King.

  “Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.”

  “It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.”

  “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.” 

   “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.” 

  “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”

This year, the Dr. King Holiday commemorates what would have been his 90th birthday. Only months before he was killed, he remarked that he was thinking ahead about what it would mean if he got to live to 90. 

  “You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
  Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.” 

Message received. I do not want to die in my spirit before my body dies. Thank you, Dr. King, your voice still rings out. Today, I am both instructed and inspired by your words.

Radio Interview

Radio Interview

New Thinking About Retirement is the subject of a half-hour radio interview in Chicago. Most people are surprised when their retirement years turn our far different than they expected. We are living longer and healthier these days, but many people are not happier. Hear Eric Thurman describe how to make the most of the decades after you stop working.

Click HERE to listen to the show. 

Steer Clear of Cognitive Disease

Steer Clear of Cognitive Disease

You walk into a room to visit someone you’ve known and loved all your life. They look up, right at you, but don’t recognize you. Their memories have vanished, and you are heartbroken. What if there were simple ways to prevent this tragedy? Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are not only sad but also lingering. The victims can exist in an empty fog for years before reaching the end of their lives. This is a difficult experience for them and a terrible burden for caregivers. 

Remarkable discoveries are showing that it is possible to delay the onset of dementia for years and, in many cases, avoid cognitive disease entirely. No, this isn’t the story of a new medication. Nor am I out to sell a dubious miracle cure. The good news is that simple lifestyle adjustments enable a large percentage of people to steer away from mental decline.

The promising way to counteract cognitive loss is to keep your brain stimulated. Doctors with the Memory and Aging Project at Rush Hospital in Chicago studied 900 older adults over a seven-year period. They found that people in that group who had a strong sense of purpose in their lives had double the likelihood of remaining free of Alzheimer’s than those who had a low sense of purpose.

Exercising your mind vigorously also pays great dividends. A good workout for your brain can be learning a new skill, developing a foreign language or practicing a musical instrument. The activity needs to be something stretching, more than playing crossword puzzles. Pursuing intellectual activities can push back Alzheimer’s Disease by years even among people who have a genetic risk for the disease. After studying nearly 2,000 older people for a decade, Mayo Clinic forecast a 43% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s by 2050 among those who keep their minds active. 

This topic is covered in more detail in chapter 6 of the new book THRIVE in RETIREMENT.

Think Tank Questions Retirement

Think Tank Questions Retirement

The Christian worldview challenges ordinary thinking about retirement. A life of endless leisure rarely satisfies. Forty percent of older adults suffer clinical depression. Loneliness and lack of purpose in life are painfully common among older adults. Too often, people reach retirement age – a time that is supposed to be rewarding – only to find it empty and disappointing. A think tank of Christian leaders of retirement-season ministries gathered for a roundtable in November 2018 to pool their knowledge and insights.

Their papers and other resources will become available through a new clearinghouse of information called Retirement Reformation. #RetirementReformation. Near the conclusion of the roundtable, Eric Thurman presented his condensed summary of the message from their deliberations. You can listen to or read his three-minute account.

Three-Minute Summary

The message that I take away from our time together begins with the recognition that a lot of people are experiencing a new season of life, which is not only a new season of life for us, it is also whole new status in the history of humanity. Society is being affected by this, because this has never happened before, that people have decades of high functioning after they stopped working, their regular gainful careers. This is presenting all kinds of new challenges and opportunities that haven’t been thought about much before, but are really upon us.

With that recognition, we have been examining and have been critical of the usual pattern of retirement, the usual concepts of retirement…not to be condemning but to recognize that there’s an inherent flaw. The flaw is that retirement is representing that it has great happiness and opportunity for people, but, in fact, is proving to be disappointing instead, because it’s too hollow. It has too little substance to it. It’s not satisfying for a person to live out actively for several decades, twenty or thirty years.

What do we want instead? My mind went to the comment from around year 200 by Saint Irenaeus who said that the glory of God is a human being fully alive. We’re asking ourselves the question of what would it mean to glorify God by being fully alive during this new bonus season of our lives?

The idea then becomes one of comparing the usual [patterns of retirement] to what might be. The usual [way retirement is lived out] is really variations on emptiness. We talk about how we’re able to relax now. You can relax for a while, but when you get refreshed, and you still have capacity, then what happens? That’s where the emptiness comes in. We’ve used words like void. That’s usually what people are feeling, and that’s being expressed in the way people are experiencing so much loneliness, disconnectedness and lack of purpose in their lives.

By contrast, the biblical world view – God’s design for human beings – has some of these characteristics:
   that we would have lifelong growth,
   we would have lifelong connectedness,
   and we would have lifelong meaning that comes from living beyond ourselves.

We have common words for that like giving and serving. That’s kind of the contrast that we’re wrestling with and how to implement it. More than that, how to make it [this new opportunity for living retirement] known to people who are not aware of the trap that they’re falling into with ordinary thinking about how this season of life is lived out.