Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life

Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life

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by Dr. Bill Thomas

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From one of the most original and innovative thinkers in medicine, this “stirring and splendid book” (Wall Street Journal) offers groundbreaking insight to the postwar generation on facing their second coming of age, a developmental opportunity to reshape their lives and our society.

Dr. Thomas is at the forefront of a strong nationwide…  See more details below


From one of the most original and innovative thinkers in medicine, this “stirring and splendid book” (Wall Street Journal) offers groundbreaking insight to the postwar generation on facing their second coming of age, a developmental opportunity to reshape their lives and our society.

Dr. Thomas is at the forefront of a strong nationwide movement to reframe “life after adulthood” as an exciting stage of human growth and development. In Second Wind, he explores the dreams and disappointments, the struggles and triumphs of a generation of 78 million people who once said they would never grow old and never trust anyone over thirty. Instilled with the belief that they would always be Joni Mitchell’s “stardust,” many Boomers are having a harder time transitioning into elderhood than previous generations. But the reality is that every 10.8 seconds an American turns sixty-five. Among all the human beings who have ever lived to see old age, more than half are living among us right now. In Second Wind, Dr. Thomas attempts to guide Boomers into this final developmental stage filled with hope and a new sense of what is possible.

As the Post War generation entered adulthood, they saw three models of what an adult could be: hippies, activists, and squares—the “square” model becoming the dominant model. Now, many Boomers now feel “stuck” inside the frenzied, performance-based, money-driven world that no longer suits them. But if they can learn to go slower, go deeper, and be more connected to themselves, their loved ones, and other members of their community, they can find the wisdom, happiness, and fulfillment that comes with a life that is in balance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a medical career ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics, Thomas (Tribes of Eden) has seen the aging process from many angles. Here, he posits that baby boomers, his intended audience, are heading for a second coming-of-age in a new stage of adulthood. Thomas creates four composite characters—Tom, Flo, Rita, and Melanie—to serve as examples and sets a framework according to “Crucibles”: “a test or severe trial brought about by the confluence of cultural, economic, and political forces within a society.” He defines 1961–1971 as the First Crucible, the age when boomers emerged into adulthood amid a backdrop of tremendous social change. His Second Crucible is the “greed is good” 1980s, where he mourns that secular Mormonism—through bestselling author Stephen Covey—became a popular but psychologically damaging movement. Finally, as an “ambassador from elderhood,” Thomas aims to “cast off... the ageist bigotry that surrounds us and to enter... into a place where age and aging stand alongside what is right and good and true.” Thomas’s characters are unnecessary distractions from otherwise sound concepts, but his advice, honed by his work with the AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute, is grounded and useful. Agent: Lane Zachary, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Mar.)
The Wall Street Journal
"A stirring and splendid book."
“Stunning and insightful…Second Wind is not only a blueprint for individual fulfillment, it’s a generational mandate…Thomas has given us an inspiring and pragmatic guide for the path to purpose in the second half of life.”
"An intellectual feast about the possibilities of life after adulthood....thought-provoking and motivating."
"A mixture of social history, culture, philosophy, and commentary....The book expanded my understanding of my generation—why we think the way we do and why we do the things that we do...visionary."
Michael Gurian
"Slowing down as we age, in the way that Dr. William Thomas means it, is not only a pleasure, but also a necessity. The brain research is clear: if we don't de-stress and rethink our lives in our fifties and beyond, we can not only lose our longevity but also increase our rates of depression, anxiety, and mental illness down the line. And so I will personally heed Dr. Thomas's advice in Second Wind, and I highly recommend this very practical and accessible book to everyone over fifty."
Christiane Northrup
Second Wind is a tour de force. A beautifully crafted narrative on the forces that have shaped the baby boom generation. And a roadmap for how this massive group can now use their accumulated wisdom and elderhood as a potent force for cultural renewal, connection, and deep healing. ”
Marc Freedman
"As the great migration beyond midlife gathers momentum and scale, millions are looking for deeper meaning, more significant roles, and connections that span the generations—asking the question, “How do I live a life that still matters?." Bill Thomas has emerged as the visionary leader and preeminent storyteller of this movement to make a monument out of what once were considered the leftover years. And now, with Second Wind, he has given us an inspiring and pragmatic guide for the path to purpose in the second half of life. It is destined to become a classic.”
Barry Barkan
"Digging ever deeper into the etiology of what he learned treating the frailest people in nursing homes, Dr. William Thomas came to realize that the very culture in which we age needs to be healed. Second Wind is his RX for healing not just the cultural disease that exacerbates every illness that afflicts old age, but also the 'Koyaanisquati,' the life out of balance diagnosed by Hopi elders that threatens the future of humanity. As he demonstrates in Second Wind, it's all connected."
Jane Pauley
"In Second Wind, Bill Thomas goes deep inside our culture. Like the best kind of doctor, he evaluates the toll our hurried, quantified, and driven lives have taken on us before he suggests a new way forward. He'll challenge the way you think about your future. And you'll want to make the journey with him."
Kirkus Reviews
An exploration of developmental substages for adulthood and beyond. Thomas, possibly unaware of criticisms of the egocentrism of the baby boomer generation, suggests that the dynamics that gave rise to the cultural shift of baby boomers have also engendered a unique imbalance as their late adulthood sets in. The author, a senior fellow at the AARP's Life Reimagined Institute and a winner of the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, writes that this imbalance is a result of the self-inflicted mythology that the boomer generation created and embraced—a generation defined as youthful and preoccupied with youth. Rather than railing against the perceived order of the old and celebrating youth, Thomas writes, these boomers now often struggle with the rigidity of that identity. The fervent embrace of youth, coupled with conflict over the "structure, function, and meaning of adulthood," was a useful iconoclasm when the embracers were young. Thomas suggests that this resulting view of growing old as a "personal failing" needs to be flipped to an embrace of "elderhood" as a time of expanding, not lessening, opportunities. "We've been told that old age offers us nothing that the adult does not already possess in abundance," he writes, "but this is a lie." As children, we're allowed to explore our identities and try on different roles, realizing that we're still a work in progress. As adults, we're acculturated to winnow down those identities ("What do you want to be when you grow up?"), and adults who experience ambiguity around those identities are labeled as flighty, insecure and immature. Thomas explores possible paradigms that might enable us, as we transition through adulthood and beyond, to expand those ideas of identity. A mostly nuanced look at the challenges of growing old gracefully for a generation that aches to see youth in the mirror.

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Simon & Schuster
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Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
2014 Second Wind: navigating the passage to a slower, deeper, and more connected life. Bill Thomas, MD. Simon & Schuster. 2014. Bill Thomas is a visionary. He is able to discern patterns and come to conclusions that most of us would not think of. Granted, many also would not agree with his conclusions. Second Wind focuses on the Boomer generation, those who were born between 1946 and 1964 and are now aging, and for the most part resisting leaving the stage of adulthood and entering the stage of elderhood. They don’t want to grow old. He proceeds by considering First and Second Crucibles, defining crucible as “a test or severe trial brought about by the confluences of cultural, economic and political forces within a society.” As the post-war babies moved towards adulthood, they gravitated towards what Thomas defines as Squares, Activists or Hippies. The majorities became his definition of Squares who were resistant to change, were reliable, and worked hard, focusing on their individuality and their immediate families. Thomas feels that Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Effective People,strongly influenced the postwar culture .The Activists and the Hippies were able to bring about some social change and often were the entrepreneurs and those who seeded technology. However, they ultimately faded into the background or were absorbed by the Squares. The Squares or the Establishment have dominated the Second Crucible, post-war adulthood. Thomas’ use of the lives of four fictional Boomers as well as historical events which occurred during certain years following their births carries us from his theory to reality in time. Once a timeline is established, his focus moves to the difficulty most Boomers have in growing from adulthood on to the next legitimate stage of life, Elderhood. At this time, Thomas writes, Boomers are moving into one of three subcultures: Denialists, Realists and Enthusiasts. [Thomas has used his self-created words such as Denialist in previous writing] Denialists, as one can surmise, are those who are holding off the reality of aging at any cost and with any method. Realists are those who acknowledge that they are growing older, dislike the concept of aging and fight against the inevitable. Enthusiasts, on the other hand, a small minority of Boomers, “openly acknowledge the difficulties that lie ahead but are also eager to explore the new opportunities for growth that the passage of time brings into their lives.” Much of the second half of Second Wind endorses an Enthusiast point of view. Most Boomers accept that they are getting older. They just don’t want to age. Industries have been built upon this wishful thinking. Just as children become teens; just as teens become young adults; just as young adults become older adults, older adults need to become elders in order to give a hands-up to the next generation. Even more important, is how conscious elders or Sages can reach out to children, two and three generations behind them. Thomas suggests, “stop pining for what is already gone… start searching for the person you were meant to become.” Those already accepting their elderhood slow down, have time to connect, time to consider the big questions, time tocare for others. “Age endows elders with unique perspectives on time, money, faith, childhood, and relationships that cannot be gained by any other means.” Thomas has written another clear, well researched book which needs to be widely read and discussed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not at all what expected. In fact it's a real downer, and I would never recommend it to any of my professional colleagues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book speaks to all Baby Boomers and represents brilliant insights into the perception and reality of transitioning from adulthood to elderhood. It spoke to me in a very positive and enthusiastic voice.