A recent New York Times article dispels the myth that a person's best creative, professional, or even physical accomplishments are necessarily confined to the younger years. Many are finding success and satisfaction in their 60s and later, perhaps due to experience gained and an openness to try new things in the later stages of life.
We absolutely have to revamp this idea of a linear pattern of accomplishment that ends when you’re 50 or 60. There are simply too many examples of people who bloom late, and it’s the most extraordinary time of their life...There was this feeling of somehow ‘getting it right’ at 50 or 60 or older.
Finding success, well past the age of wunderkind - New York TimesShare
Bob and Edith Levine, along with hundreds of other long-married couples, contributed their stories and advice to the recent book by BCTR director Karl Pillemer, 30 Lessons for Loving: Advice from the Wisest Americans on Love, Relationships, and Marriage. They recently told the story of how they met and married to the Miami Herald, in an article about the book. Here Edith recounts some of the difficulties of their early years together, and Bob's attitude towards the relatively small problems of domestic life:
“It wasn’t all a bowl of roses. I remember when things were tough and I would say, ‘The kids had the measles, mumps and chicken pox, the roof was leaking, the basement was flooded, we couldn’t pay the bills,’” Edith said. “But Bob would say, ‘No one’s shooting at you, take a shower.’ That was his mantra.”
Bob, now 89, learned not to sweat the small stuff after being wounded in World War II. He took part in the Normandy invasion in 1944 as a member of the 90th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. He was injured during the invasion, strafed by shrapnel, leaving a broken leg and a crushed right foot.
Edith also notes that Bob's upbeat attitude has been a counterbalance to her worrying,
“That has been what made my life easier. I’m a worrier and he is so positive all the time,” Edith said. “I was very blessed.”
The full article contains more from the couple, including the moving story of how Bob's life was saved by a German doctor during WWII. In an additional connection to the BCTR, Bob and Edith Levine are the parents of ACT for Youth director Jane Powers.
Are people with opposing, complementary traits the best choices as long-term partners or would someone with values more similar to your own make a better mate? For the past year, Karl Pillemer has been investigating this question through interviews with elder Americans in an extension of The Legacy Project. In a recent piece on The Huffington Post, Pillemer relays what the elders thought:
I've asked over 500 people married 40, 50 and more years what is most important for a long and happy marriage. To my surprise, their advice was nearly unanimous: Opposites may attract, but they don't usually make for great and lasting marriages. Based on their long experiences both in and out of romantic relationships, the fundamental lesson is this: You are much more likely to have a satisfying marriage for a lifetime when you and your mate are fundamentally similar. And if you're very different, the elders warn although that marriage can work, is likely to be much more difficult.
'Opposites Attract' Or 'Birds Of A Feather' -- What's Best For A Long Marriage? - The Huffington PostShare
January 5, 2012, The PBS News Hour aired an interview with BCTR affiliate Karl Pillemer in which he discusses his new book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. Given our current state of war and economic recession, Pillemer believes it's an ideal time to look to the wisdom of America's elders, "the truest experts on living through hard times." 30 Lessons for Living presents the stories and advice systematically gathered in The Legacy Project. The full interview can be viewed here.
Karl Pillemer is Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development; Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College; Director of the Cornell Legacy Project; and Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach, College of Human Ecology.Share
Lessons from the oldest Americans are now available on a Cornell web site. The Legacy Project began in 2004, when BCTR affiliate Karl Pillemer (Professor of Human Development) started collecting the practical advice for living from America's elders. Using a number of different methods, his research team systematically gathered over 1,200 responses to the question: 'What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?' People from across the country in their 70s and beyond shared their wisdom for living. Their advice ranges from how to be happy on a day-to-day basis, the secrets to a successful marriage, tips on raising children, ways to have a fulfilling career, strategies for dealing with illness and loss, and how to grow old fearlessly and well. A book on the project is scheduled to appear this fall. Many lessons (and information about the project) are available at The Legacy Project website and people can follow the project on Facebook. People age 60 and over can also contribute their life lessons on the site.Share