Midlife has a new name.
Anyone that is a Baby Boomer – those of us born between 1946-1964 (full disclosure, that includes me) HATES the word “retired.” AARP is a curse word to us. We aren’t old. We can’t be old. It’s just not possible. And in a lot of ways, we are right. Not because we are always right (we are), but because so many Boomers today are defying the aging process. If you have any doubts, just ask Helen Mirren, the 69-year old “new face” for L’Oreal Paris.
The Third Third, just to be clear, is the last third of our lives, and arguably the most important third of all. It’s when we truly get the chance to live the lives we’ve always wanted to live. The First Third is all about Growing Up (from birth to college), the Second Third is all about Growing Out (career, marriage, family), so the Third Third is all about Growing In (wisdom, spirituality, being, Inner Self Happiness), according to Leslie Matthews, a speaker and aging expert in Denver, Colorado who is the founder of the site thirdthird.com. “The Third Third happens with ‘The Wakeup Call’ to your own mortality,” according to Matthews. “That wakeup call could be when your parent dies, your last child leaves home or you start to have major medical issues. Mine happened when I had to get new hips, even though I was in my early 50s. In the Third Third, you face the ultimate question – am I going to keep moving, or fade out?”
Matthews claims that Boomers, thanks to better eating habits and improvements in medicine, have been blessed with an extra 20 years of life that their grandparents never had. Since no previous generation has ever lived this long before, how to live that life is completely unknown. (For Boomers who turned 65 in 2012, their life expectancy may extend another 19.3 years, that means to age 85.5 for women, 83 for men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.), “Who better to define how to live this new lease on life than the Baby Boomers, who so far have defined each of the life phases they have inhabited for future generations to follow?” asks Matthews.
The “Extra 20” that Matthews talks about, however, is not guaranteed. It must be earned, she says, by eating better, exercising daily, and perhaps most importantly, meditating, either through traditional meditation, yoga, or prayer, which gives a Third Third person inner joy and happiness.
The Third Third is poised to perhaps become the next major movement to spread across the US, thanks to the fact that millions upon millions of Boomers are pouring into this phase of life with each passing year. Walter C Wright, executive director of the Max DePree Center for Leadership in Pasadena, CA, in his book The Third Third of Life: Preparing for Your Future writes that the Third Third is all about answering the ultimate questions in life: “What is it that you want to achieve? Where do you want to make a difference, and how will you leave the world a better place?”
Here’s the bottom line for all us Boomers out there - the time has come for the Me Generation to finally grow up.