Turning 65 sets a person thinking and looking at the discussions taking place in the world around us. It is one reason I love reading and writing the 60 and Me
blogs.

As I approach my 65th birthday, I feel inspired. This gives me hope for making this time in my life rich and rewarding, even as my sciatica drives me crazy at times.

Today, I discovered a new word that I had not yet seen in use in the Sixty and Me community: “perennial.”

 
 

As a gardener, I love perennials. They are plants that keep growing year after year. I have some perennials in my garden, like a rosebush that was here when we moved in 1989. It still gives us bright red roses year after year. But in this case, a perennial has a new meaning.

It is “a new term to describe people with a no-age mindset.” It was coined by US internet entrepreneur Gina Pell, 49, who explains, “Perennials are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology and have friends of all ages.”

Wow! That sounds good to me. Then I looked perennial up on the Internet and realized that the new meaning has not gone viral yet. You either find great plant websites or Gina Pell, the Bay Area blogger who is promoting a way of thinking that breaks out of age stereotypes.

She is speaking to people of all ages who “get involved, stay curious, mentor others and are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded risk takers.”

Does that appeal to you? It certainly appeals to me. As I hit 65, I want to stay engaged and connected with the world and contribute as much as I can.

Not How Long, But How We Are Living

Scientists are currently debating about whether there is a limit to the human lifespan. Meanwhile, humans are living longer. Surviving beyond 100 years old is becoming a possibility for more and more people.

For me, the question is not how long, but HOW are we living? The concept of seeing oneself as a perennial may be the perfect mindset shift as we get older and live longer. It will also help us gain traction in the battle against our society’s tendency to treat older people as useless, “old and in the way.”

Pursuing the Perennial Mindset

According to the Greater Good Science Center, a research center that focuses on the “science of a meaningful life,” some of the most important keys to well-being are: compassion, gratitude, social connection and navigating differences (appreciating diversity).

Here are three ways to pursue a perennial mindset:

Stay Connected with Others

Reach out to family members, find old friends, and make new friends of all ages. Sometimes that means we must work through old resentments and find forgiveness. Other times, it means to push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Social connection is a core psychological need. Through this connection, we can practice compassion and gratitude.

Keep Engaged in the World

It may be depressing to follow the news, but it is less so if you are doing something to improve the lives of others. That could be anything from making a donation to doing volunteer work – again with compassion and gratitude.

Ultimately, as we stay engaged with the world, we recognize the amazing power of diversity that makes our planet such an amazing place. Also, this helps us find ways to make a difference.

Pursue Your Purpose

Purpose is different for everyone, whether it is relating to your grandchildren, pursuing an art form, taking courses, writing a memoir, mentoring a young person or taking a bold stand on an issue that is important to you.

Taking on a new challenge and finding a purpose will enrich your life. A purpose that combines keeping engaged in the world and connecting with others will magnify the benefits.

Identifying yourself as a perennial may be just the thing you need to spark enthusiasm in your life and prepare to live for a long, long time. Most likely, you will find that you need to take care of yourself so you have the strength and courage to keep working for your purpose. It may even help you see the world in an entirely new light.

Are you enjoying life after 60? What are you doing to pursue a perennial mindset? Are you challenging aging stereotypes by keeping engaged in the world? How are you pursuing your passions in your 60s? Please join the discussion below!

Becki-Cohn-VargasBecki Cohn-Vargas, Ed.D works as an independent consultant to schools and organizations with over 35 years as a teacher, principal, curriculum director, and superintendent in public education in California. With Dr. Dorothy Steele, she co-authored the book, Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong and Learn. Becki and her husband Rito are also working to develop an environmental research center on their private reserve in the Nicaraguan rain forest. They live in El Sobrante, California, and have three adult children.

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