Be sure to enjoy the second half of life

Years ago, there was no second half of life!
“In 1900, average life expectancy was around 47 years, about the same as it had been since the dawn of time,” say the authors of “Something to Live for: Putting Your Whole Self into the Second Half of Life.”
“Until the late 20th century, there was no concept of mid-life and beyond because most people died at a relatively young age. Today, the average lifespan in industrialized nations hovers at 80 and above.”
Think about it. What a wonderful privilege we have to enjoy the second half of life!
The authors of “Something to Live for” come from two very different walks of life.
Richard Leider is a founding partner of a consulting firm whose mission is to help people create purposeful work and lead purposeful lives. And he has been named one of the most respected business coaches in America by Forbes magazine.
David Shapiro, meanwhile, is a philosopher and college professor.
Together they have explored the meaning of life, and especially the second half of life.
They also are co-authors of the popular “Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life.”
Speaking of “Something to Live for: Putting Your Whole Self into the Second Half of Life,” Harry R. Moody of AARP said the following:
“Until now, we’ve lacked authoritative maps for the second half of life. This book provides such a map, and it’s a wonderful guide for everyone to read.”
The second half of life can be a great journey of discovery. But a journey into “unknown territory.” A journey Leider and Shapiro liken to an African safari.
Not only a personal journey in unknown territory, but a journey for a whole generation. “A territory with no maps.”
The first half of our lives doesn’t take much thought. We go to school age at six. And if we go to college, our life is planned until age 21.
After college, we have to get a job. Then we may marry and have children to support. And that’s that!
The second half of life, on the other hand, is different.
For the first time, we have some choice. We have a chance to reinvent ourselves. We can work or volunteer. We can go abroad for a service assignment, or move to Florida or Texas to escape the cold.
But in order to make the most of the second half of life, we must have a sense of purpose.
We have to ask the hard questions–questions like: Am I utilizing my God-given gifts? Does what I do make a difference in other people’s lives?
If not, what should I be doing?
Also, the second half of life inevitably involves loss–loss of friends and family, and sometimes loss of mobility and independence.
But Leider and Shapiro say that if you have the courage to deal with these losses, you can discover a new sense of vitality and purpose.
As a first step, they suggest you look in a mirror and ask yourself: what purpose does that person in the mirror have and what should that person be doing?
And never discount the small things you do, like being an understanding friend or mowing an older neighbour’s lawn.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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