The last time I interviewed Ken Dychtwald, psychologist, geriatrician and founder and chief executive officer of Age wave, a research and consulting firm, you to speak: “When some people retire, they struggle with their identities, relationships, and activities. Many people feel insecure, anxious or even bored, but eventually realize that relationships, health, and purpose really matter – perhaps more than ever. “
Ken Dychtwald is now 71 years old and has yet to retire, but he realized what really matters. And that’s the backbone of his new book, 18order, “Radical curiosity: One Man’s Purpose in Cosmic Magic and Purposeful Life. “
His book is personal. It is gritty and wise. It is a jumble of brilliant human successes. It is about loss, love and pride and the intertwining of a wild adventure of a life. And that is the importance of learning lessons from a fully lived life.
I have known and admired Dychtwald for many years, sought his advice, laughed at him and sat beside him at events featuring the stars, as he and his wife, Maddy, did raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease through nonprofits UsAgainstAlzheimer and BrightFocus organization.
For more than 40 years, he has spent his career “investigating how people, especially boomers, are involved in becoming older,” he wrote at the beginning of his book. me. And “it turned out that I myself became an older person.”
I talked to Dychtwald recently about the book, and all sorts of other things. Here are some of the highlights of our chat and have been edited and condensed.
I also recommend taking your time watching this great video from his official book launch was filmed at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.
Kerry Hannon: What scares you the most when you get older?
Ken Dychtwald: Having worked as a geriatrician now more than 45 years, I have seen a lot of suffering. We have done a sensible job of getting people to live longer, but we have done a suspicious job of matching our health lifespans. For example, watching my mother spend 12 years with Alzheimer’s devastated. Seeing my dad blind and mad at the combination of his vision loss – and sanity – from macular degeneration and the struggles of his beloved wife was amazing. Achieving longevity without health can be a hurting proposition.
What also frightens me is that I have seen a lot of elders who are considered irrelevant or self-unrelated. I couldn’t accept the idea that somehow, I was sent to the premium playpen.
What mistakes do people make about aging?
I think we should mainly find a way to become useful, not just youthful, and not only as useful, as for me to watch my grandchildren – but also to do something useful, even important in my older years. We need a whole new framework of the value and purpose of survival. As weird as it sounds, I think the elders should be social futurists
What does radical curiosity mean to you?
Vitality and an open personality come from curiosity. Radical curiosity came from curiosity. It comes from constantly wanting to learn, approaching from your own point of view, cohort or neighborhood, and getting to know others better. Radical curiosity is curiosity about life and death, curiosity about the rise of women in this extraordinary new age, curiosity about relationships among the younger generation, to empathize with potential and The circumstances of those who may have different racial or ethnic background than yours.
You don’t hear curiosity talked about much. There is a bit too much “all answers can be found on Google.” We need to raise curious kids.
You write that we should not wait until we get old to learn to live with purpose? Can you explain it?
I have worked a lot with elders over the years. And people will say, ‘I spent decades not doing what I wanted’ or ‘I could be a more important figure in my community’ or ‘I wish I took the risk. ro more and try what i really dreamed of. ‘
In fact, I think high school kids should take a course taught by elders about purposeful living because many of them have taught me that they feel they haven’t done it yet – and are live the last days of life with many regrets.
From working with elders, I’ve also come to realize that I don’t want to regret being 90 or in bed. I want to be able to say that I have strongly attached my relationships, my marriage, my fatherhood, my job and my role in the community. And I also went up on my skateboard a couple of times and came back after failures. I tried to live a life of purpose and do it on purpose.
Can you share with me the lesson you learned from The Terminator?
A group of us were gathered to speak at a conference at Harvard in 1977 about mind and body. Had a dinner at the private salon the night before at the house of one of the speakers. Arnold Schwarzenegger entered as a special guest. He is Mr. Universe – fresh from the lead role in “Pumping Iron” and taking off his clothes.
After a long discussion about the “power of mind” I told him, so what do you do next? And he said I would become the biggest movie star in the world. We all just laughed because he wasn’t an actor and you couldn’t even understand his Austrian accent. He’s a big, charismatic muscular guy. And I said, Oh, great, good luck. And then what do you do then? And he said, I’m going to get involved in politics. Maybe I will become governor of California. I did not make this up. We all opened our eyes wide.
I followed him for the next 25 years to become the biggest movie star in the world, go into politics, marry Kennedys, and then become governor of California. What’s the point I want to make? I learned from him that valuable intentions go hand in hand with discipline. If you want to be fit, make a plan. If you want to write a book, don’t just speculate about it. You might even get some help, but get the job done. If you want to be a kind person, maybe you can use some psychotherapy, or your faith leader will work with you.
Who is the most impressive person you’ve ever met?
I have been fortunate to meet so many masters. I know Tim Leary. I know Ram Dass. I met Alan Watts. I knew Werner Erhard when he was still Joe Rosenberg.
But the most extraordinary person I have ever met is without a doubt Nelson Mandela. It was at Davos, and he was speaking at the World Economic Forum, of which I am a member of the World Economic Forum. This 80 year old man came onto the stage, and he was not an old man. He is an elder.
He got an erection. He is handsome. He’s so handsome. And you’re thinking this guy spent 27 years in prison fighting for what he believes in, that’s the end of racism. This man spent a third of those years in solitude. And here he is with a beautiful, welcoming smile and a humble nature.
Nelson Mandela is very respectful and humble. He was grateful to be asked to speak in this meeting, but you also get the feeling that if he wants, he can split anyone if he wants to. He’s humble, but very strong.
We don’t have many role models as we age. When you are 60 or 70 years old, there aren’t many role models. And some of them were unimpressive. You know that some of them are either loosely or out of touch. Nelson Mandela is a truly impressive person – a powerful role model for what an elderly person can become.
How has Mandela changed you?
As an aged man, I always wondered who I could be next. And I think when I met Nelson Mandela, 23 years ago, I had the impression of an older person who was not retiring or getting a premium discount or an early special offer. He’s a man who has grown wiser, more humble, but stronger with each passing year. And I think that’s a very ambitious role model for me.
What’s your key tip for readers of ‘Radical Curiosity’?
Two things: I think we all over the age of 50 are worth taking some time to gather our stories. We should have a traditional documentary will with the things you own and how you want to distribute them when you leave, but also moral Your will, your story, your life lessons – maybe even more important, in the long run.
Even if you only have 10 pages to write, or if you want to dictate it through the stories like I did, and then turn it into a manuscript. I think it’s valuable as we grow up collecting our stories and lessons. In Africa there is a phrase “when an elder dies, it is like a library burns down”. And I will say that when an elder dies without learning their lesson, it is a loss. What happens when we get older – we become a synthetic adventure story. Why not assemble your important life lessons for others to benefit both from your mistakes and your successes?
Second, we have an important role to play in our later years as older people. I think we men and women who live long have an obligation to help younger generations, help improve the environment, help create better hearts in our geopolitical system, more empathy With people who are struggling or struggling and share whatever we have learned in our life so that people don’t make the same mistakes and gain from our insights.
Kerry Hannon is an expert and strategist in employment and employment, entrepreneurship, personal finance and retirement. Kerry is the author of more than a dozen books, included The Great Pajama Job: The complete guide to working from home, Never Too Old To Get Rich: A Guide to Starting a Mid-Life Business, Great job for everyone 50 and up, and Money confidence. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.