How Can You Become a Wise Elder? A Roadmap to Happiness & Fulfillment

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The short answer to the question, “how can you become a Wise Elder?” is: Do good for other people. Passionately and purposefully, and actively and often, do it for individuals and large numbers of people. I’d like to think more of the advanced-aging Boomer Generation – which was once called the Me-too Generation – has matured enough spiritually to realize the power of being of service to Humanity. And thus, we qualify as Wise Elders.

To be a Wise Elder, I believe mature people need to:

  • Have awakened to their life’s awesome and limitless possibilities, and the richness of their multidimensional human potential.
  • Become acutely aware of the world’s dual dimensions – the visible (sentient beings and inanimate objects) and the invisible (energy, thoughts and Spirit).
  • Feel totally alive to opportunities that benefit oneself and others in the world, at the same time.

To embody the Wise Elder identity and role of naturally serving others, it helps if a person has:

  • 60 or more birthdays –thus, is a senior.
  • Broad and deep life experience – with plenty of ups and downs for having learned many life lessons.
  • The priority of a meaningful life – emotionally, spiritually and practically – in the spirit of Victor Frankl’s search for a life’s meaning as one’s main human motivation.

The great news about being a Wise Elder is that a life of service to others, especially in one’s later years, provides an optimal means for attaining:

  • Daily contentment – full of love, joy and peace.
  • Holistic wellness – of the body, mind, emotions and spirit.
  • Long lifespan – enough to make the most of this Earthly journey.

According to numerous spiritual traditions and religions, serving others is a core requirement for living an authentic spiritual life. For example, in my religion of Judaism, there is the moral imperative of tikkun olam (Hebrew for repairing the world), which refers to actions that improve the human life and foster social justice. It involves the responsibility of taking care of the moral, spiritual and material well-being of the Jewish community, and also of the larger society – through acts of kindness and charity.

Becoming a Senior

Since turning age 60, 20 years ago, I’ve identified as a senior. Well, that’s what people call me, and organizations verify it with senior discounts! Although in my 60s I didn’t feel particularly old, I had to admit that I was no longer young – with all of the physical and mental attributes our culture so admires.

At age 58, I retired from a career in higher education – because I had tired of the career game. By 60, I had serious aging-related symptoms – including my parents’ illnesses, generalized fatigue, shaky emotions, loss of status and identity, absent loved ones (moving away or passing on), and thoughts of my own dying and death. My face in the mirror had suddenly and markedly changed!

I’m a fairly positive, resilient and creative individual – and a bit of a rebel when I feel like a victim. So, I sought out approaches to remain healthy, energetic, joyful, purposeful, connected, fulfilled and peaceful. During the past 20 years, I’ve upgraded my diet, exercised more, released negative thoughts, lowered my stress, favored fascinating friends, engaged with Higher Power (or God, Divinity, the Creator, and Universal Intelligence), and been guided by spiritual wisdom. I had evolved into a happy and thriving senior!

Transitioning from Senior to Elder

When turning 80 years, again I felt like my personal identity was shifting – from senior to elder. Of course, the definition of these two terms and the age associated with them are not set in stone, and vary across cultures. But in my mind, becoming 80 felt like I crossed into the elder life stage. And it required me to reimagine my perspective on a fulfilling life – with my doing good for others at its core.

For me, the age number 80 possessed a gravitas. Itdemonstrated I had:

  • Lived several decades beyond middle-age.
  • Got passed the American male population’s lifespan medium – of 79 years in 2023.
  • Truly entered life’s homestretch leading to its final curtain.

For me, being an 80+ Wise Elder involves a strong sense of personal responsibility to serve others. As I’m holistically healthy, I believe society’s higher-consciousness and spiritually oriented communities, which I respected and wanted to belong, highly value giving back to society – from individuals up to Humanity.

Also, examining my life today compared to earlier decades, I realize I expect myself to pursue a nobler purpose and make a respectable contribution to the world. In the process, I can develop humility, while working on leaving a worthy legacy.

I’m convinced life’s deep and lasting fulfillment will not come from my pursuit of pleasure, fame and fortune – which I had pursued in one way or another for most of my life. But instead, it will result from the higher-consciousness feelings of serving others. Examples include guiding orphans into college, mentoring social entrepreneurs, and singing to hospice patients.

A Roadmap for Wise Elders to Serve Others

What does a Wise Elder’s life look like? I shall answer with a roadmap of how I’m living this role, and receiving positive feedback about it. This perspective was mainly crystalized by what I learned during my two Senior decades. And it’s becoming even clearer as I prioritize what beliefs and actions feel essential for me as a newly minted Elder.

I view an Elder’s life as having three main categories for focusing one’s time and energy:

  • Taking care of oneself – such as diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, security, health check-ups, social relations, learning and leisure interests.
  • Meeting obligations – such as family and friends related, shopping, household chores, and financial matters.
  • Doing good for others – activities that benefit individuals, groups, organizations, communities, society, international populations, Humanity and Nature/Earth; and involve the mature roles of mentor, coach, consultant, educator, trainer, leader and friend.

Based on my life’s experience, I offer 10 guidelines for about-to-be, new or established seniors who aspire to become service-to-others-giving Wise Elders:

  1. Assess your potential contribution. List the skills and talents, professionally and personally, gained during your long life. This constitutes your knowledge base,and notably includes your accumulated wisdom, based onknowing in action, and inspired by intuition coming from your Soul and the Source. For example, my list features services such as marketing consulting, writing and editing, Japanese cooking (Kaiseki), interviewing, presentations, one-person shows, and improvised singing. Next, order your list according to how much fulfillment you would derive from sharing them.
  • Choose your client niches. Referring to the recipient of your advice as the client, consider what individuals and groups could benefit from your service contributions (such as minority entrepreneurs, cancer survivors, and job-seeking immigrants), and with whom you would enjoy interacting. Then, profile their situation (of needs, wants, issues, receptiveness, proximity, time availability, and language capacity). Decide whether you’ll share with people with whom you’re already familiar (for example, new entrepreneurs for a retired banker), or those you don’t know much about but recognize how much they’d benefit from your sharing (entertaining pre-surgery children with comedic stories).
  • Create a strategy. Now is the time to make and implement a strategic outline. Set aside certain hours a week or month for this purpose, make a list of what skills you’re eager to contribute, arrange to meet the clients and their gatekeepers, hold the first service session with the clients, ask them for feedback and critique your efforts, redesign your sharing approach, and continue to conduct and improve your sessions.
  • Share with younger people. Although I’m often of service to people near my age or older, I make extra effort to share with younger people. I believe my generation has a responsibility to them: They’re our future leaders who can use and deserve whatever input and support we can give – so we can help them clear up the mess our and previous generations have left them. Also, interacting with younger people is an excellent way to learn their cutting-edge know-how (such as computer software and artificial intelligence), and absorb their vibrant imagination and attitudes. My goal with younger clients is to be energetically among the youngest in the room, even if in fact I’m among the oldest!
  • Cultivate a relationship. Communication goes better when you’ve developed a sturdy relationshipof rapport (friendliness) and trust (safety). If you’re much older than they, be careful to minimize a generation gap interfering with communication. Gear your language, behavior and feelings to connect at a human level, rather let your greater age, experience and status distance and divide they and you.
  • Discover the client’s needs. First truly listen to the client. Patiently and without judgement, hear their words and observe their nonverbal cues (such as emotions, voice, face and other body expressions). Ask them probing questions – to draw them out, encourage them to go deeper, give you more information and impressions regarding their issue, and clarify their questions, problems and requests. Avoid speaking too much, or rushing into fixing what you see as a surface problem and limited solution.
  • Share your advice interactively. Explain what you know about their situation by using an interactive process: Give them an initial dose of advice, listen if they understand it and have questions, and add waves of advice with pauses in-between. Contribute what they requested and adjust your language content and quantity to what they can absorb. Suggest appropriate activities to your client, such as doing homework and research, getting specialized education or training, and connecting with more experts for specialized advice.
  • Advise them carefully. While you’re the expert – according to yourself and probably the clients – be humble and realistic about not knowing it all. And add you cannot guarantee your advice and predict the future. Indeed, your knowledge base will always be limited because the world is constantly changing. Also, the client and you will never have all the relevant information. And, they will typically say what they want, but may not know what they actually need. Also, convey what you don’t know, and what you still need to figure out and learn.
  • Leave them with skills. You’ll do your best to respond to their wants and even needs. But rather than only learning what you advise them, help them learn how to learn. As the adage goes, give a person a fish and they have a meal; teach them to fish and they can eat for the rest of their life. For the client, valuable skills can come in forms beyond your specific-issue advice. This could mean communication pointers (such as rapport/trust building, listening, questioning, explaining, persuading and feedback), and relationship builders (meeting, deepening, overcoming resistance, negotiating, resolving conflicts, networking, community building, etc.).
  1. Keep on growing. Life experience is a work in progress for everybody; we can always learn more to do better and improve outcomes. It’s necessary for you to continue to learn because our complex and changing world always has new lessons to teach. For examples, think of the impacts of climate change, disruptive technology, emerging human rights, and cultural diversity. When I give marketing advice to clients – based on my PhD in Marketing (1970), and decades of teaching, consulting and coaching – I confidently point out the field’s time-tested principles. But today’s new marketing world challenges me with its internet alternatives and younger consumer behavior. It’s vital for you to remain up to date to be competent and credible.

Closing Comment

Well beyond midlife, only the individual can realize and declare when they become a senior and elder, and how to function well in these roles. The body gives us distress signals and culturally bound age numbers affect how we perceive and name life’s later stages. Society both closes doors (such as mandatory retirement, negative stereotyping, and elder abuse), and opens doors (ample discretionary time and many available activities).

Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to make the best of their life, especially beyond the 60-year mark. This involves:

  • Strengthening your wellness – through proper diet, hydration, exercise, sleep, de-stressing, learning, etc.
  • Expanding and deepening your social relations – with family, friends (replacing those who move or die), professionals, clients and communities (local/face-to-face, reachable by travel, and global/online).
  • Recognizing and enhancing your self-concept – currently (meaning and mission) and in the future (personal development and legacy).

Life past 60 years goes better when we create an adaptive and positive mindset and lifestyle – to deal with advanced aging’s difficulties, foreseen and surprising. I call this strategy Adventurous Aging. It involves knowing your Self, following your heart, thinking big and creatively, taking risks, staying active, celebrating life, and serving others. In this way, seniors and elders have a superior chance of achieving holistic wellness, flexibility and creativity, consciousness expansion, social integration, juiciness and joy, continuous fulfillment, and peace of mind.

Pondering how to live a good, well and long life becomes more crucial and urgent when we’re a post-60 Senior. And the need for living an optimal older life further intensifies when we’re a post-80 Elder. Although we slow down and require more care, there’s no denying we’re capable of making our homestretch years our best life yet!

For a fuller description of Adventurous Aging, see; to discuss how Larry’s coaching approach can benefit you, contact him at or

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