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Finding Meaning and Joy as We Age

By Stu Jaffe, LCSW, Clinical Director

I recently completed a wonderful book entitled, Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, & Spirit, by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal. It invites us to a new stage of life--active aging--and gives us the tools we need to embrace it. Much of what I share in this month’s Counselor’s Corner is inspired by this reading, as incorporated into my own view of aging well.

Chapter 9 begins with the following quote from Martin Buber: “Every person born into this world represents something new, something original and unique...There has never been someone like him (you) in the world, for if there had been...there would be no need for him (you) to be in the world. Every single person is a new thing in the world and is called upon to fulfill her particularity.”

How are you called to serve the world and the people in it? Do you answer this question easily? If not, consider the following potentially useful prompts:

  1. Where do you find joy each day? Take time daily to notice as you feel joy. What are you doing? What brought joy?
  2. What do you wish to have more of in your life? The exercise in #1 can help you answer this question.
  3. What do you wish to have less of in your life? What baggage do you need to let go? What thoughts trigger anxiety or depressive thoughts? Note them separately from question #1 responses.
  4. What parts of your family legacy do you wish to pass along to others?
  5. What facets do you wish to leave behind?
  6. As you continue to craft your legacy by the way you live today, what do you wish to affirm and do more? What do you wish to do differently? What obstacles are you aware of in doing so? How can you use these obstacles to move toward your goals?

If you find it difficult to answer the questions above, either on your own or with the help of friends or loved ones, consider calling CJFS for the support and guidance of a licensed therapist. With your therapist, you can work on practical strategies to build resilience and navigate the challenges of aging while finding joy and meaning.

In Wise Aging, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen tells of her grandfather’s ability to celebrate life regardless of the challenges life presented him. “My grandfather told me that ‘l’Chaim!’ meant that no matter what difficulty life brings, no matter how hard or painful or unfair life is, life is holy and worthy of celebration. Even the wine is sweet to remind us that life itself is a blessing.”

May each of you feel blessed in the days ahead and enjoy living into the questions found here.

Best, Stu


If you find yourself struggling to find the joy and meaning in life, a CJFS counselor may be able to help Licensed Clinical Social Workers from CJFS offer individual and family counseling for people of all ages. To arrange a consultation, email Stu Jaffe, or call 205-879-3438.

CJFS proudly serves people of all religions, races and income levels.