Thursday, February 23, 2023

From Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks

 Last week I finished reading From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by  Arthur C. Brooks. This book can be helpful for people who are currently doing okay but are concerned with getting into so-called midlife crisis or going through it in the second wave of life. 

The author talks about two kinds of intelligences. Intelligence as we know is the ability to learn from experience, solve problems and use knowledge to adapt to new situations. Crystalized intelligence represents facts and past experiences which does not decline with age. Fluid intelligence represents the ability to learn new procedures, behaviors and it declines with age. The author prepares a model where he says with age and time, we should be moving from utilizing fluid intelligence to crystalized intelligence more. 

The author talks about 3 forces holding us back - 

  • Addicted to work/success
  • Attachment to worldly rewards
  • Fear of decline

He also discusses things to do to make your second half of life better than the first - 

  • Develop your relationships - to explain this point he introduced the concept of deal friends vs real friends
  • 7 predictors of being happy and healthy that we can control - don’t smoke, don’t drink, maintain a healthy body weight, exercise (including daily walks), adaptive coping style, education, and stable long-term relationships 
  • Make your weakness your strength
  • Start your spiritual journey - he explained it through Asrama, the 4 stages of life described in various ancient and mediaval Hindu texts  - 
    • Brahmacharya - learning; student's life 
    • Grihashta - household life; material attachments
    • Vanaprastha - retired life; purposeful focus on spirituality, faith, and disconnecting from worldly goals
    • Sannyasa - renounced life: fruits of enlightenment

There are books that talk about how to be productive targeting from the beginning of life or any stages of life. But there is no book I encountered earlier that focused on relatively later stage of life. So I was very happy to have it. Irrespective of you agree with all the assessments, I strongly recommend you to read the book just to get through the ideas.

Thoughts on Life, Death, and Overcoming Fear

I've been pondering a topic that's universally relevant yet rarely discussed - death and the anxieties it evokes. As I delve deeper ...