Swedish gerontologist Lars Tornstam developed his theory of “Gerotranscendence” over a period of two decades. The core of the theory suggests that normal human aging includes a range of vital and commonly overlooked components. In brief…
- There is an increased feeling of affinity with past generations and a decreased interest in superfluous social interaction.
- There is also often a feeling of cosmic awareness, and a redefinition of time, space, life and death.
- The individual becomes less self-occupied and at the same time more selective in the choice of social and other activities.
- The individual might also experience a decrease in interest in material things. Solitude becomes more attractive.
Human beings have a natural and understandable tendency to resist change. In particular, we find our youthful identity an especially difficult gift to surrender. This sacrifice must, however, be made. It is of the price of admission to life beyond adulthood. Discovering the fullness of the third age requires us to go deep, to push ourselves into unfamiliar terrain. Letting go of the desperate urge to worry over situations outside of one’s control, for example, opens the way to a form of joy that transcends the stunted adult definitions of success and failure that have, for so long, held us in their thrall. It is in the process of re-examining the lives we have lived, re-evaluating the choices we have made and re-considering the painful feelings that we’ve always run away from in the past that we eventually find our true selves. This is where the path into elderhood begins.