Creating a "Life Begins at 50" Ritual.
Going back thousands of years, society has celebrated rites of passage as a means to show community support to people going through a pivotal life transition, whether that be puberty, commencing adulthood, marriage, welcoming a baby into the world, or death. Rituals provide a “rest stop for the soul,” recognizing the end of one thing often marks the beginning of an exciting new start.
Last year, I wrote a blog post, “Life Begins at 50,” that went viral. The popularity of that post reminded me that birthday milestones deserve more than a cruel “aging sucks” Hallmark card. Japan and Korea celebrate “kanreki,” when someone experiences a second childhood at age 60 (a past post of mine, “Around the World in 60 Ways.”)
Becoming a quinquagenarian (someone who’s in their 50s) is a big deal, but I haven’t found any country or culture in the world that celebrates turning 50. That said, I think there are a number of reasons why turning 50 deserves a ritual, or at least an occasional MEA workshop (and maybe some private MEA workshops where people celebrate their big 5-0 with friends and family at our campus with our curriculum):
- At 50, we're halfway to 100, a significant milestone as the number of centenarians is projected to increase eightfold by 2050
- The U-curve of Happiness research shows that life satisfaction starts to increase after age 50, following a quarter-century decline that begins in one's early 20s
- This is the age when people most need their “Great Midlife Edit,” shedding what got them to 50 in order to embrace a new life mindset from here forward
- Harvard’s Dr. Robert Waldinger has shown that the most important variable of living well at 80 is how much we invested in our social relations at 50
- Many researchers have shown that age 50 is when our body is still limber and sturdy enough to try all kinds of adventure sports without much risk of injury
- As our MEA alum (and teacher) Richard Rohr has said, this is the age when our primary operating system moves from our ego to our soul, but no one gives us operating instructions
Are you with me? Do you see the value in creating a new ritual dedicated to helping mid-lifers cross this milestone age threshold and into a bright and fulfilling future? I think it’s time we tested one of these public or private MEA 50 workshops out. Let me know what you think.