“This book re-frames ageing by applying Mindfulness techniques. It gave me an appreciation that ageing should be seen not as an issue, but as a different opportunity... Lewis provides a set of tools to re-train the mind to explore what each of us can do to take responsibility for our own life and ageing process.”
The perception of ageing varies vastly based on people’s backgrounds and mindsets. And while some may associate it with retirement and rest, others may have a negative stigma about these mature years.
To address all the stereotypes that revolve around ageing, Berit Lewis, a mindfulness consultant, has written a book ‘Ageing Upwards’. This in-depth read aims to dispel the stereotypes that society has imposed on us regarding the notion of age and ageing. And teaches us how to grow older instead of getting older.
Berit Lewis is an author, mental well-being advocate, mindfulness consultant, and speaker. With a background in psychology and communication, she is the owner of Thriving Life, where she facilitates well-being through mindfulness for individuals and organisations.
Berit recently completed a Masters’s in Vitality and Ageing at Leiden University, Netherlands, focusing on the intersection of mindfulness and ageing. Her master’s thesis involved developing, teaching, and researching an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Vitality and Ageing course (MBVA).
Berit believes that society’s binary view of ageing (young or old) has significant societal and personal costs, and she promotes mindfulness as a means to approach ageing with awareness, acceptance, and self-compassion.
What is the book about?
‘Ageing Upwards: A Mindfulness-based Framework for the Longevity Revolution’ challenges societal stereotypes about age and ageing, offering a fresh perspective on growing older. Written by Berit Lewis, the book explores the impact of our beliefs and attitudes about ageing on our personal well-being and society as a whole. Lewis draws on extensive research and her expertise in mindfulness and meditation to guide readers through a transformative process.
The book emphasises the importance of reframing our thoughts and emotions surrounding ageing, allowing us to embrace a more positive mindset. By paying attention to the pleasant and beautiful moments in life, we can experience a richer and more fulfilling existence. Lewis encourages adopting a beginner’s mindset, empowering readers to shape their identities and become the individuals they aspire to be. While ageing itself may be beyond our control, the book emphasises that we always have control over our reactions to life’s challenges.
‘Ageing Upwards’ presents a mind-expanding shift in perspective, rejecting the notion that decline is inevitable as we age. Instead, it advocates for intentional living, acceptance, and self-compassion as ways to enrich our lives and embrace the possibilities that come with age. The book offers valuable insights for those interested in self-help and psychology, challenging ageist views and providing a roadmap for personal growth and well-being in the later stages of life.
Table of contents
- Preface: What to expect from this book
- Taking responsibility for your own life and ageing
- Mindfulness 2.0
- How to read the book
- The paradox of ageing
- ‘Ageing’ is another word for ‘living’
- I am neither young nor old – I am here now
- PART 1: FROM STRIVING TO THRIVING
- Chapter 1: From successful to mindful ageing Why do we age? Successful ageing: Only for the elite or lucky few? A less dichotomous approach to age and health Mindfulness can help us adapt
- Chapter 2: From avoiding to embracing age: An introduction to the ageing upwards framework Giving new life to an old kitchen knife Notice it, note it, know it, embrace it! Practise, practise, practise: Invest in a thriving (ageing) life
- PART 2: NOTICE IT, NOTE IT AND KNOW IT
- Chapter 3: Notice it: Train your attentional control Pay attention: Invest your mental currency wisely A wandering and negative mind keeps us safe Formal and informal attention training Let’s be patient rebels! Savour the pleasant Start to practise: Attentional control
- Chapter 4: Note it: Label your experiences From murky to clear waters Paying attention in a particular way From resistance to habit Start to practise: Label experiences
- Chapter 5: Know it: Know what drives your thoughts and emotions Our human brains are created to mislead us Knowledge of self-created habits Primary and secondary suffering Start to practise: Awareness of what drives you
- Chapter 6: Know it: Know your self Can I change my self? How to change our selves into happier individuals Personality traits and well-being How to grow older instead of merely getting older Start to practise: Awareness of your self
- Chapter 7: Know it: Know your purpose In search of a purpose A balance between doing and being
- Add vitality to longevity Know your values The big questions Purpose as a team Start to practise: Awareness of purpose
- PART 3: EMBRACE IT!
- Chapter 8: Choose your mindset Our mindset matters Stress as an example Reframe ageing Turn old ANTs into new PETs Defuse your thoughts Start to practise: Choice of mindset
- Chapter 9: Broaden your perspective If you can’t beat them, join them A broad perspective helps us accept Stop striving and you will achieve Our intelligence will not save us from pain Accept the impermanence of life Be a bigger container Broad perspective on pain, illness and death Start to practise: Broad perspective
- Chapter 10: Practise affection for your self and others We are social beings A choice between the forces within us Expand your in-groups Affection for others Affection for your self
- Take responsibility for loneliness Start to practise: Affection for self and others
- Chapter 11: Commit to actively adapting Strategies to find purpose within new contexts Select your priorities wisely by pausing Set flexible goals Achieve your goals Find a sense of agency Acceptance as a gateway to compensation Commit to the present moment Start to practise: Commitment to actively adapting
- List of Guided Meditations
Key takeaways from ‘Ageing Upwards’
1Our traits affect our well-being
In her book, Berit Lewis introduces an interesting theory of personality traits playing a significant role in predicting well-being.
The five personality traits identified in the recent international study – enthusiasm, industriousness, compassion, intellectual curiosity, and low withdrawal – are found to be particularly predictive of well-being. These traits encompass various aspects, including sociability, emotional expression, achievement orientation, self-discipline, care for others, openness to new ideas, deep thinking, and resilience.
Understanding and nurturing these traits can potentially contribute to improved well-being and a more fulfilling life. It highlights the complex interplay between personality and well-being, suggesting that personal growth and development in these areas can have a positive impact on one’s overall life satisfaction.
2Slowing down and finding life balance is crucial for living a fulfilling life
Berit Lewis also raises the issue of finding a balance in one’s life. The traditional three-phase life formula of learning, earning, and retiring may not align with the way people want to live now. Instead, individuals need to create a path that allows them to continually fulfil their needs and capabilities.
The concept of work-life balance should be expanded to encompass a broader perspective that integrates all aspects of life. The longevity revolution provides an opportunity to slow down and prioritise well-being earlier in life, avoiding burnout and preserving physical health.
Understanding and balancing the three emotional systems of threat, drive, and soothe can help individuals find their personal sweet spot, where they can maintain energy, fulfil needs, pursue purpose, and have space for reflection. This balanced state is seen as the foundation for living a vibrant and fulfilling life.
3To overcome loneliness, one needs to take responsibility for it
One of the key takeaways from this book is related to loneliness. Berit Lewis explains that in order to cope with this feeling, we need to take responsibility for our loneliness.
Loneliness has a significant impact on physical and mental health, quality of life, and longevity for older people. Active engagement and active participation on both sides are necessary to combat loneliness. Giving to others and seeking social connections can alleviate feelings of loneliness. Mindfulness, meditation, and self-compassion are effective tools for addressing social fears and improving social skills. Overcoming loneliness requires courage, self-compassion, and reframing negative thoughts. Practising self-compassion can provide strength and power, enabling us to navigate the challenges of life and ageing.
Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews
Backed with science. Even though ‘Ageing Upwards’ is a self-help mindset-changing book, it is well-backed with scientific articles and papers as well as life examples from the author’s life.
Well-structured. The book is divided into separate chapters and also includes a short conclusion at the end of each chapter.
Gives practical advice. Besides explaining the mindset theories and giving her own life examples, Lewis also provides readers with direct guidance in adopting the approach described. What is more, at the end of each chapter, you can find meditations that are guiding you to practise all the skills of the ageing upwards framework.
Has the author’s personal touch. Besides being backed with science, the author shares her and her loved ones’ struggles and how they overcame them. This adds genuineness to the book and makes the reading experience more enjoyable.
May seem repetitive for readers versed in the topic. Besides addressing a unique topic of changing mindset about ageing, the recommendations about loneliness, life balance and downshifting might seem similar to those given in many other self-help books.
Best quotes from ‘Ageing Upwards’
“Although words like ‘love’, ‘compassion’ and ‘affection’ can make us feel uncomfortable and the ability to feel and cultivate them in others is often dismissed as soft skills, they are in reality hardcore. Our bodies and minds are wired in many ways to encourage giving and seeking kindness and compassion. Our endocrine system, for instance, rewards us with pleasant hormones whenever we feel protected and wanted by other human beings.”
“When we talk about finding a purpose in life, it can so easily become an excuse to boost our ego and our status. We might want our name to be remembered for having achieved something grand. But what if we are not living to fulfil our own needs, but the needs of the world? Maybe in our quest for finding a purpose in life, we need to stay humble and focus on the we' rather than on the ‘I’ .”
“One study from Australia followed 11,104 adults aged 18-79 over a period of four years and found that increased extraversion, conscientiousness and agreeableness were associated with increased life satisfaction, whereas neuroticism was associated with lower life satisfaction.”
‘Ageing Upwards: A Mindfulness-based Framework for the Longevity Revolution’ by Berit Lewis offers a transformative perspective on ageing, challenging societal stereotypes and providing practical guidance for personal growth and well-being.
This book is a valuable resource for individuals seeking a more positive and fulfilling outlook on ageing. It is recommended for those interested in self-help, psychology, and anyone looking to approach ageing with a renewed mindset.
Where to buy
You may purchase ‘Ageing Upwards’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in Kindle and paperback versions, so you are free to choose the format that suits you best.
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