"You don't just achieve a certain age and have happiness
fall into your lap," says best-selling author, life coach, and senior fellow at the U of M's Center for Spirituality and Healing, Richard Leider. "When we're young, we think...'when I'm a grown up, I'll have all the answers. I'll know what I want, and where I'm going, and I'll be fulfilled and content.'"
"But you know what? It doesn't work that way. People get done with their working life, with that long process of earning a living and meeting their basic needs, and they retire, and then they look around and say... 'now what?'
"A century ago," Leider continues, "there was no real idea of 'retirement'-- but today, people are living much, much longer -- the average American lifespan is almost 80 years. We've got a whole lot of living left to do as 'mature adults.' So then, the question becomes: where do you go to get an advanced degree in maturity?"
Where people go to get that 'advanced degree,' and how they spend that half of their lives is a passion for Leider, whose last book, Claiming Your Place at the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose, was a best-seller. The book presents a model of vital aging and provides a framework for living with purpose.
Now, Leider is following it up with his newest book, Something to Live For: Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life. "Claiming Your Place set up the context for new 'elderhood,'" explains Leider. "Something to Live For takes the next step and delves deeper into the idea of living on purpose, finding meaning as we age. It takes a deep dive into why purpose is good medicine.
"It's a very personal book," he adds, "and it's filled with stories that I hope will resonate with readers. It's a tool for helping people discover how to be happy...but it's not a drive-by type of self-help book. It's fun; it's practical; it's real."
Using an African safari as a metaphor for a journey of discovery, Leider, with co-author David Shapiro, guides readers through the qualities and behaviors that can help people find purpose in the second half of their lives. Drawing on wisdom and stories both ancient and contemporary, as well as current research, he shares insights on how to move gracefully through the second half of life, finding fulfillment and new, deeper levels of meaning by valuing experiences over material possessions, others over one's self, and using one's inner gifts.
Individuals featured in the book include notables such as Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute, and Jonathan Reckford, founder of Habitat for Humanity. Says Bolles, who wrote the foreword for the book, "I cannot think of a more important subject, or a more important book, than this one. In a world where so many people feel set adrift on choppy seas, we need Something to Live For more than ever. It's a great compass from two great guides."
Leider will be moderating a free online discussion about Something to Live For as part of the LearningLife Beyond the Book program. The online discussion, which kicks off July 31, will be capped with an optional live dinner and discussion event with Leider. Visit the Beyond the Book Web site to view updates on the discussion, or sign up to receive a weekly e-mail when Leider posts new discussion content.
The live dinner and discussion will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 4 at the U of M Campus Club. Tickets are $40 for the dinner.
Something to Live For is available for purchase at www.richardleider.com, at local bookstores, and through the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing by calling 612-624-9459.
Beyond the Book connects participants with authors, U faculty, and community experts for live and online discussions about noteworthy nonfiction books. Each program begins with a four-, five-, or six-week online discussion where the author or expert posts weekly discussion questions, conversation starters, and personal thoughts. Shortly after the online portion ends, there will be an optional live dinner and discussion hosted by the expert.
For Leider, the College of Continuing Education, LearningLife, and Beyond the Book are ideal venues for his work. "Everything I do is interactive -- the way I coach, teach, write, speak. When it comes to discovering living in the second half of life, people want hands-on. They don't just want a lecture; they want practical help that they can apply to their own life. And what better way is there to connect with an audience than to talk to them, ask them questions, see what they're thinking? Hopefully, we can open a good discussion into how and where to look for that sense of purpose, of happiness."