Why you should ask your elders on the purpose of life

Photo by David Harry Stewart

Photo by David Harry Stewart

"If you are searching for a direction or purpose, interview your future self. The next best thing: interview an older person who embodies the ‘self’ you would like to be. This idea came to me from Barry Fine, a highly successful serial entrepreneur who still manages a business at 89. In fact, he didn’t use the term ‘future self’. He used a word he’d learned growing up on New York’s Lower East Side. His advice was to ‘find a maven’. You don’t want a 40-year-old if you are 20; you want someone in his or her 80s, 90s, or a centenarian if you can find one

This person also needs to be as close as possible to your imagined future self. Debating a career in medicine? Find a doctor who loved what she did. Worried about whether you can balance your values with a career in the financial services industry? Find an older person who struck that balance and made it to the end of life without regrets. Planning to work an undemanding day job so you have the energy to paint/write/act in your spare time? Some very old people did just that (and can tell stories of bohemian life that will sound very familiar today).

Why not begin with an activity as old as the human race: asking the advice of the oldest people you know? Because older people have one thing that the rest of us do not: they have lived their lives. They have been where we haven’t. So find someone who mirrors your image of your future self, and ask about your direction – you won’t regret it."  - Karl Pillemer via Aeon Mag