As the Bible says “For everything there is its season, for every matter under heaven its time. There is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot plants." The seasons of life are not all the same even if we often don't realize it when we are young.

In the first half of life, ambitious people adopt a simple formula for chasing success: they focus with determination, work tirelessly, sacrifice and never stop. Works. Until it doesn't work anymore. Or it no longer works as easily and almost automatically as it did before reaching the fateful threshold of fifty. The second half of life is governed by different rules. In middle age, many begin to struggle to achieve goals, rewards are less satisfying, and family relationships may dry up .

In response, they do what is expected of them and have always done: they work even harder in an attempt to avoid decline and deny those intellectual and physical changes that are becoming increasingly evident. What to do at this point? Giving in to anger, fear, and disappointment at a time in life they imagined would be filled with joy, satisfaction, and pride. Or try to find a new, alternative way.

This is what Arthur C. Brooks, professor of public leadership practices at the Harvard Business School, proposes in his essay " The Second Wave " (Aboca, 2024, pp. 256, also e-book), a volume that tries to suggest how to find success, happiness and deeper meaning in the second half of life.

Brooks starts from his personal experience. He was a very successful manager for a long time. At the peak of his career, on the eve of turning fifty, he had achieved all the goals he had set for himself, yet he did not feel satisfied. He therefore embarked on a journey to discover how to convert possible future disappointments into opportunities for personal growth , developing a strategic plan to live a second half of life that is happier and more meaningful than the first.

La copertina del libro
La copertina del libro
La copertina del libro

First the author studied the biographies of some of the most successful people in history , some capable of reinventing themselves in middle age, others incapable of abandoning old habits that have now become vices. He then drew on social sciences, philosophy, neuroscience, theology and Eastern wisdom. Furthermore, he interviewed political leaders, but also ordinary women and men. The result is a volume that invites us to refocus our priorities and habits , exploring profound wisdom, detachment from material rewards, connection with the world and with others, service to others and spiritual development. A volume that invites us to find new ways to gratify ourselves through teaching, sharing our experience, the predisposition to socialize and invest in friendships and romantic and family relationships.

Above all, Brooks pushes us to be more aware, more willing to invest time in our inner well-being and in a gratification that is not given by medals, titles, money or trophies. It is given by the certainty of doing something concrete for ourselves and perhaps for the people we love.

The second wave of life may not be as high and full of adrenaline as the first, but it can take us very far, to settle us on a beach where serenity and satisfaction dwell.

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