Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined

Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined

by Dr. Ken Druck
Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined

Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined

by Dr. Ken Druck


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In Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined, Dr. Ken Druck uses examples from his life and work to free readers of the destructive and limiting myths, biases, stereotypes, and misconceptions of getting older. Dr. Druck shows how all people can make peace with, and find joy in, every stage of life. His practical and inspirational approach speaks to anyone who wants to redefine what it means to age and embrace the transition of a new decade in one's life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683504481
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 184
Sales rank: 1,085,794
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

A true pioneer in the human potential movement, Dr. Ken Druck has broken new ground in the psychology of men, parent effectiveness, grief literacy and now, successful aging. A regular guest on CNN, PBS and network news, lifeline to thousands after 9-11, Newtown and Columbine, resource to millions through social media and winner of the prestigious 'Distinguished Contribution to Psychology' award, Ken Druck's new book, Courageous Aging: Your Best Years Ever Reimagined is winning recognition as one of the most important books on aging to ever be written.

Read an Excerpt



He who is not every day conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Often it's an unexpected glimpse of our own reflection that does it. Suddenly it hits you: "I'm getting old!" You think, "Just look at me. I'm not the same person I used to be. I've aged!" And if you've somehow managed to avoid looking in the mirror, or in the light reflected off a shop window, this can be a rude awakening.

Of course, it's not just your own image that gets you thinking about the passage of time. At the Thanksgiving table you may wonder, "How much longer can Mom do this?" or "What will holidays like this be like after Dad is gone?" You may notice some slippage in a dear friend's memory as they tell you something for the third time over lunch. Or have to admit you're not as nimble as you once were, and rethink running 5Ks, playing tennis or climbing up a twelve-foot ladder to patch a leak in the roof.

It's true: You're not the person you were. But that's not bad news, quite the opposite. Yes, there are difficult and unpleasant dimensions to aging that all of us would elect to ignore if that were possible. Parts of this book examine those very areas — but in a way that's designed to support and empower you. That's because getting older also brings about a host of changes for the better — wonderfully positive changes. "Emotional freedom," "healthy detachment," and "spiritual awakening" are but a few of the many perks available to us as we get older. Yet our youth-obsessed culture either ignores, makes light of, or commercializes these gifts as it glorifies staying forever young.

Take, for instance, my friend Howard. At fifty-five, Howard jumped into a volleyball game at his company picnic and got outclassed by his thirty-year-old colleagues who were trying to take each other's heads off. Instead of feeling inadequate because he couldn't match up to the competition — as his younger self would have — Howard found himself laughing at the whole scene. Somewhere along the way, he had left his hyper-competitive, testosterone-driven identity behind and had settled into a more mature, confident, and happier version of himself.

A similar thing happened to my client Jodi. It came to her attention that two younger women at her company were fiercely competing with one another. Two decades ago, Jodi would have been jockeying among them. She would have been anxiously trying to carve her own fiefdom, believing success to be a zero-sum game in which someone else's victory translated into her loss. But no longer.

Jodi is now in her mid-fifties, and instead of competing with colleagues or ambitious youngsters, she mentors them. Helping them develop genuine confidence in themselves as professional women is a whole lot more meaningful than playing games and competing for her place as the alpha female. Now, when she gets home at the end of the day, she feels a great sense of satisfaction, rather than the fatigue of rivalry. The potential for more satisfying and gratifying relationships is very real as you get older. Another perk.

Or consider my partner, Lisette. As she and her friends navigate the realities of turning fifty — and are bombarded with ads for everything from wrinkle creams to lubricants — she carries with her a gem of truth that eludes many of her counterparts: confidence is the sexiest quality of all.

You probably guessed, from the title of this chapter, that I'm personally OK with the fact that I am no longer "young" in years. By the time I hit fifty, I had let go of many of the things that plagued me in my younger days. As a young author of thirty-five, I cared more than I'd like to admit about appearances, notoriety, and fame. My ego was tied up in gaining status/notoriety, power, approval, and adoration. And now? I may worry about those things momentarily, and then the knowing part of me kicks in. I smile and take a deep breath knowing I'm the best me that I can be. And that's enough. The confidence that I've grown in my mastery of the game of life, including the keen awareness of how little I really know for sure, brings a feeling of peace and freedom — yet another perk on the menu of possibilities I couldn't have imagined as a younger man.

It can be easy to lose sight of these deeper truths when we catch our reflection in the mirror or are faced with the passage of time in some other way and are hit with that sinking feeling. When we're under the gun or experiencing a stressful time of life, we are most susceptible to old fears and insecurities. At times like these, the mirror can become our greatest enemy. One look at our older selves can send us back onto the well-worn path of fear, shame, self-deprecation, and other self-limiting habit patterns that we have never outgrown.

Many of us have internalized harsh self-criticisms that cause us to pass negative judgments on ourselves, highlighting what we perceive to be our flaws. Admonitions like "Look at those wrinkles. You look ugly!" or "You're losing your hair! You look terrible!" can play like broken records in our thoughts. And our conversations. And, all too easily, one look of disgust with ourselves can become the narrative for how we talk to, and treat, ourselves.

Sound familiar?

If you've been on a steady diet of self-criticism, or a binge criticizer who goes on an occasional rampage, it's time to change the conversation in your head to one of self-compassion. It may also be time to look into a different kind of mirror, one that reveals value-added changes in your heart and mind, rather than focusing on your appearance. Those of us who are used to being told, "You don't look a day over fifty," are blessed with a full head of hair, have a slender figure and wrinkle-free skin may be proud of our looks — even a tinge arrogant. It's easier for us to focus on the parts of us that are still "young." Whereas those less fortunate have to deal with the less forgiving signs of aging. And may be ashamed. Either way, learning to greet the older-looking, older-feeling version of yourself with kindness, acceptance, humility, and even affection is the key. Let's get started and find out exactly where you stand on the issues of getting older.


I created the Courageous Aging Self-Audit to help you look at how you speak to yourself and to what extent you either deny or embrace the things that are changing in your life. You might have realized ten years ago that you were obsessed with seeking approval from others and needed some midcourse corrections — and have put that off until now. You may discover that you've already made significant changes in the time you take to "get ready" in the morning or before a night out because it's just not that important to look perfect anymore.

When we do a self-audit, it's because we're ready to take a closer look and hold ourselves accountable. Looking under the hood, so to speak, we might see a few things we can do better at. Or we might see how the experience of getting older is affecting us. We can acknowledge and appreciate ourselves in the areas we're doing well in, and find ways of being kinder and more supportive to ourselves in areas where we're struggling or see room for improvement.

Your willingness to uncover and face them all is as much an act of courage as it is curiosity. Do your best to step back and simply observe, rather than judge. And take heart. Every season of life has its daunting challenges. You know this because you've lived through them. This season, this moment, and this inquiry are all ripe with opportunities for newfound richness and meaning.


Great treasures are housed in the attics and basements of our interior lives. By the middle of life, most all of us have experienced unspeakable joy and gut-wrenching sorrow. My own life changed forever twenty years ago when a tragedy upended my family. My older daughter, Jenna, died in a bus accident while studying abroad at age 21. I'll share more about that in the pages to come. I mention it now because I know that in all likelihood, you, too, have endured circumstances that cracked your heart open, as well as ones that made your heart sing with joy. Due in large part to these experiences, you know more about yourself, and life itself, than your younger, less-resilient self could have dreamed.

Now is the time to unearth that treasure. Some of it will be uncomfortable, if not painful. Much of it will be energizing. Dusting off age-old dreams and fears, and discovering new ones that you haven't yet articulated, will give you the chance to decide — with eyes wide open — what this next phase of life will be. The self-audit is a powerful tool. It presents you with an opportunity to come clean about where you stand with being forty-eight, fifty-seven, sixty-three, seventy-six, or eighty-two and the opportunity to see where you can make midcourse adjustments. An honest look at our "inner lives," much like a review of our expenses and budget, requires great courage. The return on investment is that it frees us to imagine our best possible future, reset our trajectory, and take the first steps forward on a great adventure.

You take an educated risk when you do a self-audit. When you go seeking the truth, you sometimes discover that the truth is unsettling, or that it hurts. Your younger self might have passed on this kind of truth-seeking, preferring, instead, to look away. But you're not that younger, possibly conflict-avoidant or insecure self. Your wiser, more courageous self is seeking a deeper understanding — which is the reason you've picked up this book. The stronger, smarter version of you can handle a little discomfort knowing the benefits will be well worth it.

You may have selected a book on courageous living and courageous aging because you have a desire to become more confident, self-aware, and self-directed when it comes to the future. You may also want answers. At least some part of you is open to exploring whether you have allowed your fears, attitudes, and biases to limit your potential and to knowing exactly what they are. You're willing to face the critic in your head, and your fears, because you want to know what you're really dealing with. You have faith that such an honest reckoning promises a better, fuller future. And you know that the best, healthiest relationships, including the one you're having with yourself, are not possible without these kinds of reality/accountability checks.

It's also important to note that this is a self-audit. There's only one best authority on what's true for you and your life, and that's you. What you'll find in this book is a framework to help you discover what's true for you on your own journey of self-examination. In each chapter you'll find an invitation to be more honest with yourself than perhaps ever before. Becoming the best version of yourself in this new season of life demands that you go beyond the defenses you may have used to justify avoidance and inaction. In a way that's different from even five years ago, you now have the chance to live in accordance with what you want, rather than what anyone else is telling you to want. Doing a self-audit is the first step in this process of taking inventory so that you can discover ways of living even more authentically.

I can tell you this: It's worked for me. Though my PhD is in clinical psychology, most of what I have learned about life and overcoming the adversity in my path started with bold self-reflection. After the tragedy I alluded to earlier and transiting my own dark night of the soul, the falseness in my life began to fall away. Making the journey through (not around) adversity and fighting my way back into life taught me resilience — not the kind you can learn reading a book on positive thinking, but the kind that grows organically deep inside of you and leaves you humble.

Becoming a trusted resource and lifeline for families and communities after tragedies like 9/11, Newtown, and Columbine came from my willingness to face the adversity in my own life. I learned to embrace my brokenness rather than run away from it out of shame and embarrassment. Encouraged to "keep on keeping on" by family and close friends, I was able to summon the faith to go on. Learning to walk with a limp in my heart and accepting life's unwelcome changes without bitterness gave me newfound strength and hope.

Today, when I look in the mirror or a TV monitor at my aging self and have my own moment of unpleasant surprise, I call upon everything I've learned about overcoming adversity. In the loss of our younger selves, we're asked to summon our deepest resources for strength, faith, and courage. Transforming adversity is how we become the wiser, more authentic and resilient version of ourselves. As the late singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen so eloquently stated in his song Anthem,

Ring the bells that can still ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in

It is out of our brokenness that we become whole. Out of the darkness, we find light. Out of our willingness to face into the tough issues of life comes the sense of peace, freedom, meaning, and connection we all seek.

You could liken reading this book and taking the Courageous Aging Self-Audit to purchasing life insurance. We don't buy life insurance in order to die. We buy it to live with peace of mind, knowing our loved ones will be taken care of if/when something happens to us. Now, as we contemplate the prospect of advancing years, we seek the peace of mind that comes from putting all the rooms of our houses in order. Rather than leaving our innermost challenges, fears, and dreams unexplored, we're going to face them head-on — and afterward, we'll enjoy the confidence of knowing there are no bogeymen left in the closet, no "I love you's" left unspoken and no important matters left undone. Feeling reassured that we have lovingly considered the needs of those we love, as well as our own, we're free to live the one life we have the best we can.

By allowing us to take inventory of where we are right now and to imagine some of the greater possibilities, the self-audit sets the table for creating our best possible future. Can you think of anything that tops living with peace of mind, a greater sense of freedom, and closer, more loving relationships? What other perks would you add? The self-audit is the first step, and then comes the new, improved version of your game plan for making these your best years ever. So let's begin.



There is a space between man's imagination and man's attainment that may only be traversed by his longing.

Kahlil Gibran

The Courageous Aging Self-Audit is a process of finding out what's true for you. Everyone's path is different: different people feel different things, and each of us deals with our emotions differently. The same is true of our dreams. Our visions for what it means to have a fulfilling life are as unique as our fingerprints. The common thread is that it takes courage to step up and volunteer how you really feel about getting older and then step back and assess what you said, including the fears and grand visions you have never acknowledged. It starts with being honest with yourself. As you ease into that honesty, you may also want to confide in a trusted friend, partner, or coach, sharing both your fears as well as your excitement and enthusiasm for the new freedom you feel from leaving your old fears in the past.

At its core, this self-audit is designed to help you take stock of how you're doing with the process of getting older (at any age). Taking an honest look at yourself and examining the role age is playing in your life will free you to reimagine the coming years as some of your best ever. The road to creating your best positive future begins right here, right now.


It takes a whole lot of strength and humility to engage in this kind of deep reflection and do the inner work necessary to grow our souls. This type of bravery may be different from anything you've had to summon before. It certainly was for Susan, my client, after her life was turned upside down.

At fifty-five, Susan had spent a good fifteen years avoiding every possible uncomfortable feeling about getting older. She had employed a wide variety of delay and diversionary tactics including cosmetic surgery, Botox, expensive clothing and jewelry, and costly wrinkle creams. She was also a master of redirecting conversations away from issues of aging, and — when none of those interventions did the trick — she would self-medicate with prescription drugs and several glasses of white wine. In all those years, Susan had always managed to stay one step ahead of her fears. Or so she thought.


Excerpted from "Courageous Aging"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Dr. Ken Druck.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction: An Invitation x

Preface: How to Use This Book xvii

Taking Inventory 1

Chapter 1 Your'e Not a Kid Anymore (Thank Goodness!) 3

Chapter 2 Your Courageous Aging Self-Audit 12

Chapter 3 The Myth of Graceful Aging: Resetting Expectations 28

Clearing the Table 41

Chapter 4 Looking Back, Clearing the Air: Regrets, Expectations, Resentments, Grudges, and Debts Come Due 43

Chapter 5 Facing In: The Wonderful World Beyond Denial 53

Chapter 6 The Industry of Aging: Pop Culture, Wrinkle Cream, and Annuities 61

Chapter 7 Parts and Service: I Am Not My Aches and Pains 71

Moving Forward 83

Chapter 8 Reimagining the Future: The New Old 85

Chapter 9 Putting Your House in Order 95

Chapter 10 Irreverent, Vibrant, and Audacious Aging 102

Chapter 11 The Changing Landscape of Our Relationships as We Age: Aging Parents, Partners, and Adult Children 113

Shifting Gears 127

Chapter 12 Pack Your Bags, Then Go Have Fun: Psycho-Spiritual Estate Planning 129

Chapter 13 Social Responsibility: Paying It Forward 138

Chapter 14 Facing into the Infinite: The Impermanent Light Burning Eternal 146

Chapter 15 Completing Your Souls Journey: Coming Home 154

Please Stay In Touch 159

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