and the Possibility of Productive Aging
Robert S. Weiss and Scott A. Bass
Issues of meaning are important throughout life but may well be problematic only for the young and the old. Adolescents, not yet decided on their lifework or whether, let alone who, they will marry, can obsess both alone and in bull sessions with peers about the direction their lives will take. Once adult responsibilities are assumed, people seem to go on automatic pilot, except for those intervals of midlife crisis when the point of it all may be reconsidered. In later life, with occupational and familial tasks completed, grand questions of the meaning of life again have personal relevance. There is again opportunity, if not need, to ask, “What is it all about?”
One of the discoveries made by many in later life is how much it matters to them that they matter to others. They find, sometimes to their surprise, that the marginality that accompanies retirement makes them uncertain of their worth. Their past success provides inadequate support for their current selfesteem. Their earlier feelings of worth proved unbankable. The comment is sometimes made by retired people who had achieved some prominence in their occupations: “I've gone from who's who to who's he?”
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Publication information: Book title: Challenges of the Third Age:Meaning and Purpose in Later Life. Contributors: Robert S. Weiss - Editor, Scott A. Bass - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 189.
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