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Elizabeth Peabody's Thoughts on Self-Renewal and the Perils of Middle Age

One concept sums up Elizabeth Peabody's letter to her friend, the sister of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and that is how we as human beings should not be complacent and become stagnant. We live in a constantly changing world and as such, we must continue to change if we were to adapt. She writes:

The perilous time for the most highly gifted is not youth. The holy sensibilities of genius — for all the sensibilities of genius are holy — keep their possessor essentially unhurt as long as animal spirits and the idea of being young last;
...but the perilous season is middle age, when a false wisdom tempts them to doubt the divine origin of the dreams of their youth; when the world comes to them, not with the song of the siren, against which all books warn us, but as a wise old man counselling acquiescence in what is below them.

Simply put, when we think that we have no room for growth, or when we don't seek to improve, then we fall into that trap which she so eloquently described. Stagnation saps our youth and vitality more than physical decay. How then shall we avoid that outcome? Read on to know the answer.

(Image credit: Brain Pickings)


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This is similar to my own thinking. In a way, the episodes of my life have been out of order. I was not able to go on adventures in my youth, but I have in middle age. It's done well for me.
One observation I've had from watching elderly people in the past few years: not being socially engaged can have terrible consequences. Standing still can lead to social isolation. As a consequence, I've learned to be very socially aggressive by seeking out and taking up new opportunities to meet new people, make new friends, and try new things.
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