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Is Knowing How to Grow Old the Master Work of Wisdom?

By Margaret Manning July 20, 2016 Mindset

Knowing how to grow old well is a problem that few people throughout history have had to tackle. As recently as a few generations ago, living to your 60s was a privilege denied to almost everyone.

Now, we find ourselves in the unusual position of being able to ask questions like, “What should I do in retirement?” “How can I reinvent myself, now that my kids have left the house and are building their own lives? And “What do I want my legacy to be?” Wow! What a difference a few decades can make!

Perhaps an even bigger question – and one that ties all of the questions above together – is this: “How do we know how to grow old well?” In other words, how can we use the experience and wisdom that we have accumulated over the decades to get the most from life after 60?

This, in my opinion, is the essence of what Henri Frederic Amiel meant when he said:

“To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.”

To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living. - Henri Frederic Amiel

Over the years, I have learned so many lessons. I have learned that most battles based on your ego are not worth fighting, but, battles based on your principles often are. I have learned that starting the day with gratitude is the best way to stay positive. I have discovered that a genuine smile is more powerful than any anti-aging cream. I could go on, but, I’m sure that you have your own list.

Of course, the problem is not just having wisdom, but, having the courage and motivation to apply it. Perhaps this is what Henri Frederic Amiel meant by “the master work of wisdom.” Wisdom, in this sense, is just a tool. It will never create anything important unless it is used creatively and consistently.

I’m really curious what you think about this idea!

Do you agree that wisdom is essential to getting the most from life after 60? If so, what truths about life have you learned over the years? Do you also agree that wisdom is useless without the discipline to apply it? Why or why not? Please join the conversation!

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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