Life After Age 40 in the Third Stage of Life..!!
You have probably heard the saying ‘ Life begins at 40’ but perhaps your experience might be more that ‘ Life Begins to Show at 40 ’ !
Certainly, as you approach or pass this age, it is likely that you will become more and more aware of health issues and how they can impact on the quality of life you want to lead. For instance, if you have played vigorous and active sports, you may be noticing an increasing frequency of injury and the fact that it takes longer to recover from such injury. On the other hand, if you have led a largely sedentary life, you may be beginning to notice other problems, such as reduction in stamina, energy and flexibility.
Even if you have not experienced any of these things, you are almost certainly beginning to notice a rising incidence of medical ‘issues’ among your friends and acquaintances of this age group. The condition of health of surviving parents may also cause you to reflect on what you might expect from life as you move into its later stages.
Most people born in the latter half of the 20thcentury are starting to become aware that, unlike generations born in previous centuries (who considered themselves lucky to survive a few years beyond the end of their working lives), they face the prospect of a reasonable percentage of their lives being spent in the ‘post retirement’ period. These days, at age 40 you can expect, on average, to have as many years ahead of you as behind you. Whether we find the prospect encouraging or discouraging reflects, on what we feel will be the quality of this period of life.
What implications are there then for this extended post-retirement period? Well, for one thing, health experts are now starting to talk of the ‘Third’ and ‘Fourth’ stages of life rather than ‘old age’ or ‘retirement’. These new terms are considered necessary to spell out a very important distinction in how we live our lives in these periods.
The Third Stage of life is seen as a positive and enjoyable period of life that takes place after you have finished your formal working life (or finished raising your family). You are still living an active and independent life and you may well be making significant social contributions or perhaps exploring and developing skills, hobbies and travel that you did not have time during your working life.
The Fourth Stage is that negative period of your life when deteriorating health has made you dependent on others for care and attention. You no longer live an independent life and this period is regarded as being of low quality. Obviously, you want to live a life where you spend a long time in the Third Stage and little or no time in the Fourth.
If you keep yourself healthy then the Third stage of your life may well amount to a period of 20 or 30 years. If on the other hand, you fail to maintain your health then, with medical technology now available, the dependent, low quality Fourth Stage of life may grow to cover that 20-30 year period.
This is unlikely to be something that you cheerfully contemplate! In fact, the prospect is so depressing that many people choose not to think about the Fourth Stage and the life ahead of them. Consequently, they fail to take a few simple steps that can prolong the Third Stage and vastly improve their prospects of having a long, healthy and enjoyable life.
Sifu Sunil Samant is a Renowned Global Tai Chi Master.
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