Listening to Our Elders | Harnessing a Lifetime of Wisdom

In today’s turbulent world, the wisdom of our elders provides an anchor

Throughout our lives, we amass a wealth of knowledge. Our vocabularies expand, and our understanding of facts deepens.

Moreover, we develop the capacity to use this knowledge effectively. We find ways to apply what we know to assist others, extending our thinking beyond our individual selves.

We start prioritising actions that contribute to the well-being of others. According to Eric Erikson’s developmental framework, older age is characterised by “generativity,” a focus on nurturing and guiding the next generations.

As we age, we acquire another facet of wisdom: the ability to achieve “emotional homeostasis.” This means we can restore our emotional balance even when life throws us off course. Age grants us emotional resilience, allowing us to manage negative emotions, recover from setbacks, and find silver linings.

Human beings are inherently social creatures, and we all rely on social connections. One effective way to combat loneliness is through hobbies.

Instead of enjoying your hobbies in solitude, why not share them with senior citizens? When Ainshra noticed her grandmother feeling down, she took her outside to play badminton.

Another example is an 85-year-old individual whose grandchildren gifted her a tablet. She uses it to read the Quran, thanks to the large font size. This not only keeps her spiritually engaged but also strengthens her bond with her grandchildren, who sit around and listen attentively.

In today’s turbulent world, the wisdom of our elders provides an anchor. It offers us purpose and direction. By bridging the past, present, and future, their wisdom guides us toward a more inclusive and healthier existence.

We can all benefit from listening to our senior citizens. When they share their insights, pause what you’re doing, clear your mind, and listen attentively. Over time, you’ll treasure their wise words, which can guide you toward fruitful and healthy destinations. The truth is, much of what happens today has happened before.

There’s nothing entirely new under the sun. So, why not tap into the wealth of experience that our senior citizens have gathered over a lifetime? When faced with a difficult decision or a new challenge, consider seeking advice from a senior. They can offer invaluable insights on what to do and sometimes, equally importantly, what not to do.

We conducted interviews with retired senior citizens and asked them to share words of wisdom based on their life experiences. Their collective wisdom provides a valuable roadmap for navigating life’s challenges and making informed decisions.

Ali Mohammad Wani, Age 71 years

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy. Walls of worry surround us every day and we can never run away. But remember, walls only block the sides, never the sky. Look up. God is always there for you. Most people are concerned only with what they can get from the world, but it is what we are able to give others that determines the quality of our life.

Remember that worrying is totally useless. Worrying will not solve your problem. Live in the present that’s what keeps you going. Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars. Look upon life as a gift from God.

We did nothing to earn it. Life is not all a bed of roses. Happiness and sadness are always a part of our existence. Forget the troubles that passed away, and remember the blessings that come each day.

We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don’t allow our bodies to heal, and we don’t allow our minds and hearts to heal. Stay happy my friends.

Ghulam Rasool Mir, Age 73 Years

Everyone has untold stories of pain and sadness that make them love and live a little differently than you do. Stop judging, instead try to understand. Nobody has a perfect life. Everybody has their own problems. Some people just know how to deal with it in a perfect way. Don’t waste your time looking back on what you’ve lost. Move on, for life is not meant to be travelled backwards.

Everything in life happens for a good reason, it teaches you something. Treat every mistake you made a lesson to make you a better person. Keep your dreams alive. Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past.

Rather, it is a spirit that bears things - with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope. Understanding to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.

God is the best listener. You don’t need to shout nor cry out loud because He hears even the very silent prayer of a sincere heart. God always has something for you, a key for every problem, a light for every shadow, a relief for every sorrow and a plan for every tomorrow.

Thank God not only for the blessings, but for the frustrations which have helped you become a better person. Keep your faith in God and He will never fail you.

Ghulam Nabi Mir, Age 70 Years

Emotion is very deceiving. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down. But on the other hand, God will bless those who have pure and sincere hearts. God uses our feelings for a greater purpose. Yes, it is important each day to show our feelings of love and concern to someone, and a bit of care to those in need.

We never know how much a small gesture of love means to someone. God uses our emotions for a greater purpose, for without this we don’t know how to feel the needs of others. Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and care, to change a person’s life. Human kindness is the greatest virtue of all time. It is not wrong to be rich but it is wrong not to be human in treating lowly people.,

You learn nothing from life if you think you are untouchable. All that we are proud of one day we could not bring this to the grave. God uses our emotions for a greater purpose. Don’t let negative emotions like hatred, envy, strife, pride, and many more dwell in your heart.

It ruins your life and inner peace. Learn to be grateful for the little things you have. Richness can give us temporary joy, but the real joy is in giving. Learn to listen to others with humility. We don’t get closer to God by passing judgement on others. We have no time to love if we keep on judging others.

Brij Krishan Dhar, Age 78 Years

Respect, be compassionate. Be considerate. Do not add insult to somebody’s hurt. It is a divine role to console one who is down and broken. Judge not what you see, it is too superficial. Criticise not the weaknesses of anyone, you might have flaws bigger than theirs. If you judge, the same yardstick will be use to judge you. Be aware of God’s purpose in them; focus on yours.

S Gurmeet Singh, Age 74 Years

Honesty really is the best policy. You show your love and care for others by speaking truth in love. While it’s a lot easier to remain silent while others are caught in sinful cycles, it’s not the loving thing to do. People will become better because of your frankness, not your flattery.

Mrs Richards 79 Years

Stand tall in the midst of chaos in your life, in your down emotions. There is a season for everything. Hope, trust in God is the proper attitude in the season of weeping. With the Faith that is unwavering will take you to the season of joy and dancing. The night does not only mean darkness, it defines silence and rest so bear with the night and sooner the dawn will peep over the horizon till a brand new day.

Rajiv Arora , 73 Years

Every chapter in our life has to come to an end, as it has reached its conclusion. It’s important to accept this, close the door, turn the page and move on. Leaving the past where it belongs so we can make the best of life still available to be lived. Develop courage for it is the quiet voice at the end of the day. That every ending marks a new beginning. Let God open incredible doors for our life. He knew we were worth so much more, for His Greatness is upon us!

Dr Zubair Saleem is a Senior Geriatric Consultant and Gerontologist and Dr Showkat Rashid Wani is a Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir

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