“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.”
– Pope John Paul VI
I have heard it said, that life gets better with age. I have also heard it said that the golden years are far from golden.
So, who is right?
Let’s start with the argument that late adulthood has been mischaracterized as something “golden”.
There are the undeniable facts of what it means to get “over the hill”. As “science” would have it, life is but a downward decline to the inevitable fate of all mortals.
Then there is the reality that the longer you live, the more opportunity you might have to encounter an unforeseen health crisis. And thus, the argument against anything “golden” would hold true.
But then there is the other side of the argument. Those who truly believe that life gets better with age. As someone who enjoys conversations with people twice my age, I always want to know. Is this true? And if so, how do you enter “later adulthood” living the best years of your life?
It requires mastery. What I mean is, you do not just end up at the end of life and all of a sudden have all the virtuous qualities that arguably make life “better”. It is the hard parts of life. The conflict. The struggle. The heartache. The disappointment. The rejection. The failure. These are the battles that are inserted into our lives to develop our character. It is mastery over the hard stuff where we develop courage, discipline, love, temperance, compassion, empathy, and care (just to name a few). All of the virtues that make life “better”.
And this brings me to you. Whether you are starting your first job or an “empty nester”, conflict is a part of life. It is not meant to make you bitter. On the contrary, it has been inserted into your life to make you better.
First, you have to identify the actual conflict.
Next, you have to choose to accept it.
Finally, and most importantly, you have to master it.
“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.” – Pope John Paul VI