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What makes an Elder an Elder?

Last week in my men’s group meeting, we discussed Elder Energy.  Here are some positive characteristics of Elders that we described.  As you read through this list, I want you to think of two things.  First, think about a person you respect, and how much of this characteristic you see in that person.  Second, rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for each of these characteristics:

  • Wise, insightful
  • Serene, peaceful, balanced
  • Personal awareness
  • Knowing I have something to offer
  • Willing to share myself
  • Comfortable with my place in the world
  • Aware of my limitations
  • I no longer have to prove myself
  • Attentive, engaged, connected
  • Reassuring, supportive
  • Ready to challenge the status quo

Now notice a few things about this list.  First of all, it does not say anything about a person’s age, gender, socioeconomic status, occupation or religion.  You can find Elder Energy everywhere.

During summer breaks in college I frequently worked in construction jobs along Houston’s Ship Channel.  The work was hard and the pay was good; and after about three months I was ready to go back to the intellectual rigors of college.  On the summer before I got married, I worked at a cement factory.  The working conditions were miserable — every day I would go home covered in cement dust, which required copious amounts of baby oil to remove.  While I was willing to put up with it for a short while (the pay was good), I wondered why anyone would want to work there permanently.  I talked with one of the full-time construction workers there, and I was surprised to find that he enjoyed working there.  He said something to the effect, “Well, someone has to do this job, so it might as well be me.”  I was impressed by his maturity and thoughtfulness.  You really can find Elders anywhere.

In our men’s group, we also discussed the negative attributes of older people who are not good Elders.  As you think about this list, again think about two things.  First, think about people in your own life who are not good Elders, and what characteristics they have which interfere with their ability to display their inherent Elder Energy.  And second, consider to what level do you display these characteristics:

  • Judgmental, prejudiced
  • Closed-minded, unwilling to learn
  • Grouchy, cantankerous
  • Isolated
  • Playing the victim
  • Giving unwanted advice

Now think about what groups of people tend to display these negative characteristics.  What can be done to help these people see that these habits or behaviors inhibit their ability to display their inherent Elder Energy?  What can you do to minimize these characteristics in yourself?

Please share your thoughts on what it takes to be an Elder.  Let me know what characteristics you agree or disagree with.

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