~ Review by Julia Holladay ~
As a Midlife Makeover and Life Transitions Coach, I was eager to read Barbara Bradley Hagerty’s Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife. With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring in our country daily, there are a lot of people wondering how to make this next chapter relevant and worthwhile. Hagerty devotes more than 400 pages to this effort and does a remarkable job at engaging her readers with experts in fields including longevity, neurology, sociology and psychology.
Hagerty is a reporter with the keen ability to craft a good story. She weaves academic research and her lived experience into the pages of this book. Hagerty also imbeds her own personal journey as she engaged with experts, often as a subject in the research. Far from gratuitous, I appreciate her candor and willingness to be the guinea pig in all sorts of interesting assessments and experiments, such as brain games, a “change commit contract”, and even a two-week Cruise America road trip with her husband.
I am an eternal optimist, so I appreciate how the data reinforce Hagerty’s message that ultimately midlife is a time to make choices, be brave and celebrate our wisdom. There are critics who believe this book is too Pollyanna and doesn’t go deeply enough into the harsh realities some people face with the stressors associated with midlife. In defense, there is a chapter, “When Bad Stuff Happens” that addresses the nature of midlife troubles and ways to manage through rough times.
In reading Life Reimagined, you’ll learn about new findings about the importance of neuroplasticity, resilience, novelty, and the rewards of altruism, to name a few. You’ll also learn about the importance of friendships in this time of life, and “OPM.” As Hagerty writes, “They say OPM—other people matter. Resilient people rely on other people to help them.” This is a good thing to remember for those of us who have tended toward self-reliance in earlier life stages.
Life Reimagined offers many insights on the journey of midlife. Hagerty gives many gems for readers to take with them, like why holding the hand of a loved one during a stressful health test is good for you; the importance of novelty in marriage; ways of overcoming the symptoms (not the disease) of Alzheimer’s; and what “platinum generativity” is, and why using signature strengths and giving them away is just one of many ways to enjoy a long, fruitful and more exuberant life.
Hagerty also encourages readers to go for their Plan A – whatever unexplored dreams are waiting in the wings, and believing redefining yourself is “possible more often than not.” In a nutshell, this book is for anyone wanting a recipe for reimagining their own midlife.
Thank you, Julia!
Julia Holladay, Certified Professional Retirement Coach