5 Ways to Increase Resilience, Wisdom, and Well-Being

Extending ourselves beyond what is familiar by relating to people who are older than us can offer meaningful life lessons and character strengths.

grandfailure/Adobe Stock

There I stood, surrounded by people from my neighborhood at a cocktail party—our common purpose to celebrate the pristine park that lines the shores of the Long Island Sound steps away from where we live. Typically, I’d look to connect with people I know, or perhaps have met through a friend—in other words, I take the comfortable and easy route. But this time, I opted for a different experience.

Taking in the setting sun and a warm autumn breeze, I noticed an older couple in their mid-70s standing on their own amidst the chattering younger crowd. Sensing a social divide, I walked up to them and introduced myself, and in minutes found myself deeply engaged in interesting conversation. This couple and I quickly delved into discussion of the current pressures surrounding high school kids, and then of the pros and cons of empty-nest life in the suburbs versus the city—after 40 years of suburban living, this semi-retired mathematics professor still commutes by train to his work at a metropolitan university. Walking home at the end of the evening, I recounted the conversation to my husband and felt grateful for having chosen to extend myself beyond the familiar and into the realm of…