How To Age Magnificently

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” ~ (Swedish Proverb)

Having worked in the field of adult development and aging for over five decades, I continually find myself faced by the “young is good, old is bad” mindset and I’m trying my best to change this narrative through my writing, speaking, and consulting.


After speeches, I’m often asked about the path of purposeful aging: “Got-a-minute?” “How do I make the most of the rest of my life?” “I’m living longer, but no longer feeling relevant.” “I often feel invisible.” “Do you find this happens to others?”

Something huge is happening. A demographic wave has swept over the social landscape. It’s not just that we are living longer – we are living purposefully longer. No longer is purpose an isolated experience for a conscious few. A new phase of purposeful life is in the zeitgeist everywhere.

The emergence of an older, more purpose-driven population is one of the most significant social stories of our time. We often have more time and no time to waste. We have the freedom to do what we really want to do. But what exactly is that?

Charles Handy in The Age of Paradox, wrote: “True fulfillment is I believe vicarious. We get our deepest satisfaction from the fulfillment and growth and happiness of others. It takes time, often a lifetime, to realize this.” The path is different for each of us: the challenge, however, is universal.

Where Do We Go for an Advanced Degree in Aging

Is aging a gain or a loss? Should we be pro-aging or anti-aging? What’s the good life? What’s the purpose of living a long life? How shall I live in my later years?

I’m inspired by Lifespark, the organization whose mission is to help people “age magnificently.” Personally, I’d go to Lifespark for an advanced degree in aging. Lifespark helps seniors stay healthy at home, navigate their health options with confidence, and live fuller, more purposefully “sparked” lives.

Getting Older or Growing Older?

We’re all getting older; but, we’re not all growing older. Aging magnificently means growing whole as we grow old and how the later years of our lives can be as fulfilling and meaningful as those that led us here – if not more so.

As you might imagine, Lifespark is brimming with stories involving people who are living purposefully – on their own terms. They do this through helping seniors build a whole-person Life Plan. They view aging as a potentially liberating experience, one that enables individuals to live with greater choice, curiosity, and courage – to be their authentic selves.

Growing Up Twice?

We can grow up twice: first, from childhood to adulthood; second, from adulthood to elderhood. Traveling the path of magnificent aging means outgrowing adulthood and growing into elderhood; expressing more of our true selves in all that we do.

Magnificent is code for becoming inspired by a pro-aging mindset. The second half of life – the “old” half – is less about proving ourselves and more about improving ourselves – growing whole, not old.

Traveling the path of pro-aging benefits us in three ways: First, it is energizing; it provides us with a reason to rise in the morning. Second, it makes us feel more resilient as we face the inevitable adversities of aging. And third, it enables us to remain relevant as we grow older.

Rearview Mirror or Windshield?

The path of purposeful aging is a choice to wake up every day with the intention to “grow and to give for life.” Later life affords us the freedom to choose to become the person we always meant to be – to view life through a windshield rather than a rearview mirror. Too often we live the second half of our lives by “default” – looking through the rearview mirror – living in the past.

Do you feel constrained by anti-aging rearview mirror thinking? Or, do you feel inspired by future windshield dreams and possibilities? We’re living longer than past generations, yet the societal story of aging is stuck in an ageist rearview mirror script from past eras. As such, it’s not doing us any favors.

It’s My Time

We all age. It’s just a matter of how. My time has come to change the age-old story from an anti-aging to a pro-aging mindset. It’s time to retire retirement as we know it.

It’s time to disrupt the aging experience and show the world a new model of aging magnificently.

It’s time to confront the view of aging as a disease. Aging is not a disease; it is a design problem. Growing old is not a bug in life’s program; it is a feature. We’re lucky to grow old.

As Lifespark founder and CEO, Joel Theisen says, “Lifespark is based on the belief that while quality medical care is essential to aging magnificently, it isn’t enough by itself. As people age, health outcomes improve when we connect them to magnificence, to living a sparked life.” (

To age magnificently is not just about goals like those often found on a bucket list. It’s also about the truth that we were given another day to live, today, and along with that we were given the choice to rise with a reason to live. We can experience the felt sense that we made a difference, that our lives mattered.

The power in purpose is the power of compassion. Compassion is the soul of purpose. It alone is the greatest of all the gifts we have to offer. We may not always see the impact our lives have on others, but we can know deep down that we are making some contribution, large or small, to the larger common good.

It’s Your Time

My purpose to “grow and to give for life” is my aging aim. As I attempt to personally travel the path of magnificent aging, I do not pretend to have all the answers. But, having been on the path for decades, I offer my insights informed by my own study and experiences.

What does it mean to you to “age magnificently?”

Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is the author of twelve books, including two best sellers, which have sold over one million copies. Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal growth field.  Richard’s PBS Special – The Power of Purpose – was viewed by millions of people across the U.S.  His recent book is Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Old?: The Path of Purposeful Aging. His newest book is the 4th edition of The Power of Purpose: To Grow and to Give for Life with longtime co-author David Shapiro to be released December 2024.

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