Book of The Month – June 2022 : From Strength to Strength

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by [Arthur C. Brooks]
The roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age, from bestselling author, Harvard professor, and the Atlantic’s happiness columnist Arthur Brooks.

Many of us assume that the more successful we are, the less susceptible we become to the sense of professional and social irrelevance that often accompanies aging. But the truth is, the greater our achievements and our attachment to them, the more we notice our decline, and the more painful it is when it occurs.

What can we do, starting now, to make our older years a time of happiness, purpose, and yes, success?


At the height of his career at the age of 50, Arthur Brooks embarked on a seven-year journey to discover how to transform his future from one of disappointment over waning abilities into an opportunity for progress. From Strength to Strength is the result, a practical roadmap for the rest of your life.

Drawing on social science, philosophy, biography, theology, and eastern wisdom, as well as dozens of interviews with everyday men and women, Brooks shows us that true life success is well within our reach. By refocusing on certain priorities and habits that anyone can learn, such as deep wisdom, detachment from empty rewards, connection and service to others, and spiritual progress, we can set ourselves up for increased happiness.

“To the overachievers, success addicts, and tired strivers who are fairly confident you can’t keep it up forever but will try anyway—this book is for you. Arthur Brooks shows you it’s possible to build a life that really does get better with age.” —Simon Sinek, optimist andauthor of Start with Why and The Infinite Game 
 
From Strength to Strength is a wise and inspiring guide to reimagining the rest of your life. If you’re a striver tired of striving, this remarkable book is for you.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of DriveWhen, and A Whole New Mind 
 
“Brooks appears to have a clear strategy here: first he horrifies you, then he bucks you up. An alternate title for this book could be The Good News About Your Inevitable Decline. Most of us strivers believe we can keep racing until we run out of road. Arthur is trying to save us pain and maximize our contributions to the species. Every ambitious person should read this.” —Dan Harris, author and former ABC News anchor 

Have a complete break with the past and see what happens…..

A black and white portrait photo of J. Krishnamurti
J Krishnamurthi

I think it is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your beliefs and experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating like machines whether you believe or don’t believe. You would let fresh air into your minds. Wouldn’t you? That means you must be insecure, must you not? If you can do so, you would be open to the mysteries of nature and to things that are whispering about us, which you would not otherwise reach; you would reach the god that is waiting to come, the truth that cannot be invited but comes itself. But we are not open to love, and other finer processes that are taking place within us, because we are all too enclosed by our own desires. Surely, it is good to retreat from all that. Stop being a member of some society. Stop being a Brahmin, a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim. Stop your worship, rituals, take a complete retreat from all those and see what happens. In a retreat, do not plunge into something else, do not take some book and be absorbed in new knowledge and new acquisitions. Have a complete break with the past and see what happens. Sirs, do it, and you will see delight. You will see vast expanses. When your heart is open, then reality can come. Then the whisperings of your own prejudices, your own noises are not heard. That is why it is good to take a retreat, to go away and to stop the routine, not only the routine of outward existence but the routine which the mind establishes for its own safety and convenience. Try it sirs, those who have the opportunity.

Madras Jan. 5th, 1952, The Collected Works, Vol. VI

The Seven Habits that Lead to Happiness in Old Age 

Using data from the Harvard study, two researchers showed in 2001 that we can control seven big investment decisions pretty directly: smoking, drinking, body weight, exercise, emotional resilience, education, and relationships. Here’s what you can do about each of them today to make sure your accounts are as full as possible when you reach your later years:

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Be Like Cat

“When a cat falls out of a tree, it lets go of itself. The cat becomes completely relaxed, and lands lightly on the ground. But if a cat were about to fall out of a tree and suddenly make up its mind that it didn’t want to fall, it would become tense and rigid, and would be just a bag of broken bones upon landing.In the same way, it is the philosophy of the Tao that we are all falling off a tree, at every moment of our lives. As a matter of fact, the moment we were born we were kicked off a precipice and we are falling, and there is nothing that can stop it. So instead of living in a state of chronic tension, and clinging to all sorts of things that are actually falling with us because the whole world is impermanent, be like a cat.”

– What is Tao?, Alan Watts

The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time and energy, and both are limited…

′′….. Stop having hard conversations with people who don’t want change.

Stop showing up for people who have no interest in your presence. I know your instinct is to do everything to earn the appreciation of those around you, but it’s a boost that steals your time, energy, mental and physical health.

When you begin to fight for a life with joy, interest and commitment, not everyone will be ready to follow you in this place. This doesn’t mean you need to change what you are, it means you should let go of the people who aren’t ready to accompany you.

If you are excluded, insulted, forgotten or ignored by the people you give your time to, you don’t do yourself a favor by continuing to offer your energy and your life. The truth is that you are not for everyone and not everyone is for you.

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Ordinarily, we are walking bundles of solutions to problems that no longer exist..

Photo by Matus Hatala on Unsplash

Ordinarily, we are walking bundles of solutions to problems that no longer exist. Everybody is so. You are carrying thousands of solutions for problems which are no more existent – and you call it knowledge. It is hindering your capacity to know. It is not knowledge.

Drop all the solutions that you are carrying. Drop all the answers that you are carrying. Just remain silent. And whenever a question arises, out of that silence you will hear the answer – and that will be THE answer. It will not come from you, it will not come from scriptures, it will not come from anywhere – it will come from nowhere and it will come from nobody. It will come from your innermost nothingness.

-Osho

The biggest barrier to positive change is identity conflict.

The more deeply a thought or action is tied to your identity, the more difficult it is to change it…… The biggest barrier to positive change at any level—individual, team, society—is identity conflict. Good habits can make rational sense, but if they conflict with your identity, you will fail to put them into action….

Over the long run, however, the real reason you fail to stick with habits is that your self-image gets in the way. This is why you can’t get too attached to one version of your identity. Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.

James Clear from Atomic Habits