Meaningful creativity, service, and engaged generativity
often take us to states of being in which we feel
alive, full of joy, and inspired.
~ Angeles Arrien

Aging with Spirit

A joyful spirit is at the core of Resilient Aging, as we learn from spiritual teachers in their later years. See below our review of The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu – celebrating their 80th birthdays.

Richard Johnson – What is Spiritual Agelessness?

Thomas Moore – How to age joyfully – make your later years the happiest?

Annie Lamott writes down every single thing she knows as of today

Aging with Spirit Websites


The Elders

Conscious Elders

      Elder Spirituality (Spiritual and Practice) 

Resilient Aging Video, E. Ryan

Hamilton Third Age Learning videotaped my recent talk Fostering Resilient Aging through Creativity, Community & Contribution.

Writing Exercise

Like Annie Lamott above, practice resilient aging by writing down everything true you know as of today, including lessons of growth through adversity and choosing joy over despair.

Book Notice

Powered by Love: A Grandmothers’ Movement to End AIDS in Africa

J. Henry & I. Landsberg-Lewis;  Goose Lane Editions, 2017.

Listen to the story of the African grandmothers who, having lost their own children and husbands to the HIV-AIDS epidemic, are raising their grandchildren and other orphans as well – with the spiritual and monetary support of hundreds of Grandmother Groups in Canada.

Book Review

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams; Penguin Canada, 2016.

In April 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu travelled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India to celebrate his Holiness’ 80th birthday. The two spiritual giants met for five days of talks on this question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?

Douglas Abrams, longtime cowriter with the Archbishop, views himself as an atheist of Jewish heritage.  All three contributors are committed to working with the best of all faiths (including humanism) and with scientific knowledge even while remaining true to their personal faith convictions. Abrams guided the talks on joy, organized the themes, and weaves excerpts together within a highly readable text of background information and admiring interpretations of the main points made by the two conversational partners.

In the story of their encounter, Tutu and the Dalai Lama come across as radiant and loving individuals – Tutu the elder by a few months – connected by deep friendship and teasing, humourous personalities.  They both teach through engaging stories, often commenting on each other’s. They have both experienced exile and rejection – not only for themselves but also for their people. Yet, their lives are joy.

I was struck by Abrams’ interview with neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who cited   findings to support four independent brain circuits underlying lasting wellbeing – our ability to: maintain positive states; recover from negative states; focus and avoid mind wandering; be generous.  Meditation, prayer, and other mindfulness practices address each of the four circuits.  As Thomas Merton affirmed, the core spiritual practices of all religions are similar despite differences in rituals and belief systems.

It is wonderful to sit in conversation with these two gurus, to hear about their sufferings and their attitudes, to learn that joy comes through sadness just as life has its meaning because of death, and that generosity and kindness to others is the core of joy-practice. Everyday obstacles to joy include: negative emotions (fear, stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, sadness, grief, despair, loneliness, envy), passing through difficulties, illness, and fear of death.

Finally, the authors elaborate on eight pillars of joy: perspective, humility, humour, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity.  Indeed, generosity can be seen to incorporate and to foster all of the other pillars.

With this shadow photo,

I bid you adieu