Three attributes make the total personality of an individual: Knowledge, Skills and Attitude.
Knowledge is the starting point and denotes what we learn from various sources about life, its facets and all subjects surrounding us. Skill is the next important aspect that converts theoretical knowledge into practical utilities. Knowledge and skill are complementary to each other. But the third aspect of personality i.e. attitude is possibly the most important quality that shapes final personality of an individual.
Attitude is the way one looks at life and its contours. An individual with positive attitude will always look at the brighter side of life, fight all adversities with a cool mind & determination and win. Even in a loss, the person with a positive attitude will take the issues in the proper stride and move on to fight the next battle. On the other hand, a person with a negative attitude will always peep at negative side of life and will be a loser even in a win.
Above discussion shows the importance of attitude. One may have great knowledge, abundance of skills but will not be able to succeed if he / she does not have the right (positive) attitude. On the contrary, a person with right attitude will be more mentally prepared to fight the battles despite being slightly weaker in knowledge or skills. Attitude, therefore, plays a significant role in life journey of an individual.
In the stage of life facing several challenges, right attitude is very important for elderly to make his / her happy. There are seven (7) attitudes in this context that are quite important and relevant for an elderly person. These are described in the following paragraphs:
Attitude 1- Action to Wisdom
Till the time of retirement, life of a person is full of action: combination of knowledge and skills (with right attitude) at personal, family as well as professional fronts. There is very less time to think and life is replete with rigour of movement. With life in retirement, pace of action slows down and dawns wisdom era. Wisdom is one step beyond knowledge and skills and is the cumulative effect of what one has learnt in life. Thus, to be happy in elderly life, an individual has to develop an attitude of wisdom coming out of abundance of knowledge and action. It is time to think, reflect and let things go by.
Attitude 2 – Attached to Detachment
Student and working life are full of attachment for material assets like vehicles, houses, touring places and so on. In elder life, one should envelop an attitude of detachment. Here the word detachment does not mean that one will not enjoy life; it implies that elders will continue to enjoy the events / places without being attached. This means a philosophical attitude should dawn and we should be away from the pleasure of enjoyment to bliss of divine!!
Attitude 3 – Independence to Inter-Dependence
While we migrate from childhood to adulthood, there is a shift from zone of dependence to one of independence. In childhood, we find comfort in company of others like parents or siblings; but on graduation to adulthood, we normally start taking decisions ourselves thus migrating into zone of independence. We do not like to be dependent on others while we are young: we take pride in taking independent decisions in our life. Once we become elders, we should try to develop a sense of inter-dependence; we depend on others on some issues like our physical mobility but independent in others like how we should spend our time. It is a period of life where we are in between the phases of total dependence and complete independence.
Attitude 4 – Finding New Purpose of Life
One we retire, our earlier purposes of life like earning money or settling children might be over. Therefore, we need to find out new purposes of life. Otherwise life will appear meaningless. This new destination can be in total variance with earlier life goals and may include things what we could not do all our life and what we wanted to do. It could be learning new skills like dramatics or singing or painting or a new language. It should be a specific and with achievable goal. This new purpose should drive the elderly to find fresh meaning of life.
Attitude 5 – Staying Connected
One of the serious problems in old age is anxiety arising of feeling of loneliness. If not taken care of properly, it might result in clinical depression. One of the antidotes of this problem is to develop an attitude of staying connected. One should remain connected with family members, school / college friends, colleagues in senior citizen communities / clubs, among others. in this digital world, staying connected has become relatively easier. But the attitude of being with others is important.
Attitude 6 – Selfless Service
It is a world of inequities. To find a meaning in life and keep a legacy, it is imperative that we do something for others in addition to doing things for us. As Dalai Lama rightly told that we will not be remembered for how many cars we had but will be known how many people we gave lift to. And hence an attitude of selfless service to people who are in need is one of the most important attitudes elders must develop.
Attitude 7 – Spirituality
This is the last but possibly the most important attitude the elders should develop. Attitudes of wisdom and detachment should automatically lead elders to attitude of spirituality. This means spending time realizing fully that life is a journey and all bits of pleasures and sorrows associated are to be experienced with equal philosophical perspective.
The pertinent question always remains whether it is possible to develop all these attitudes within the constraints of physical and mental limitations. The basic requisite is that we must be aware of what we should do to tackle the issues of life. And the discussions on the 7 attitudes is an attempt to infer that to lead a happy elderly life, it might be necessary to develop the seven (7) attitudes. We should all make a concerted attempt towards the same to make our life happy and contented.
Dr A K Sen Gupta is the Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). This article has been published in Free Press Journal (FPJ) on 25th December, 2021, where he is a regular contributor. Dr Sen Gupta was the Director of S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai and Director & Mentor at SIES College of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai. He was a World Bank Consultant and instrumental in setting up National Banking College in Ghana, Africa and Professor at National Institute of Bank Management, Pune.