Spirituality & Self-Improvement: Is This A Boomer Thing?

If it's so easy, why am I so overwhelmed?

Have you ever read the Oprah Magazine? I subscribed a few months ago, mostly because it was $5 a year from Amazon. When I finally got around to reading the May issue, I was struck by the number of columns that dealt with spirituality, and self improvement. It made me wonder why women seem to need to improve their inner beings every 5 minutes or every other page. The other thing I started to think about was where men go to get in touch with their inner selves. You sure wouldn’t find an issue of Sports Illustrated giving tips on improving anything but your luck in the fantasy leagues. Maybe Men’s Health, (no, that’s all about performance)?

  • So do men get in touch with their inner beings?
  • Where do they go for inspiration?
  • Do you think they get it from watching their favorite team get trounced by their rivals?
  • Do women give it to them by osmosis?
  • What if they’re on their own?
  • Why do women seem to need it so much more then men?

I posed the question to a few people, some men, some women. The most serene person I know reminded me that most of the top spiritual books are written by men (my theory: they know where the money is and that most self-help book are bought by women). She thinks that men read more of this than you might think, and most of the classes she’s been to have had just as many guys as women. Someone else told me that a lot of men aren’t spiritual until they go through a 12 step program. When I threw it up to my husband, he said that he always finds truth in music, and that he became self aware through therapy.

  • But how much self awareness is enough and when is it too much?
  • If you shirk from it does that make you less of a person?
  • What does it mean if you find it in every other page of a magazine?
  • If it’s so easy to put your life on the right track, why don’t we?

Just this week, through books and magazines, I’ve been invited to “wake up to reality” by asking four questions, to make my life a success by following The Success Principals, to reject self-loathing and treat myself with the “kindness and respect you would show your best friend”, to make the right thing the easy thing to do, etc. etc, and it’s only Monday! What do you think?

Don’t forget this week Blogging Boomers Carnival. There are some great posts, including donating your body to science.

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10 Responses to “Spirituality & Self-Improvement: Is This A Boomer Thing?”

  1. Jo-Anne L says:

    You know, I hadn’t thought about gender in regards to this issue, until you raised it here. I just participated in a 5-hour event on Spirituality and Aging . There were about 60 people in attendance – and the room was fairly evenly divided between men and women. The group leader was a male psychotherapist. In the beginning it was primarily women participating and responding – but as time went by, more and more men joined in. Then we had some group “exercises” in which both genders held their own pretty well.

    That said, I think of “spirituality” as an attribute – like musical ability. Some of us have more of it than others, regardless of gender, and some of us exercise it more and train it more than others – again, regardless of gender. And I think the reality that both men and women can possess spirituality enhances us all.

  2. [...] All About Aging wonders why women seem to need to improve their inner beings every 5 minutes or every other page of a magazine? And where men go to get in touch with their [...]

  3. I don’t know about spirituality, but when it comes to self-improvement I think most men bury their heads in the sand … until something bites them in the ass and forces them to make some changes. Usually some health scare or other dramatic event.

  4. I have to agree with Andrea. Men, typically, think they are fine–their moms tell them so. It takes a sharp wake-up call to get them to introspect. Some go thru therapy to get there. When it comes to spirituality, I think the search also comes after a traumatic event. That’s what it takes for most people to begin asking: “What’s it all about?” What I find interesting is JoAnne’s report that men and women participated in the discussion equally. Typically, in a mixed group, men tend to dominate. (As a focus group moderator, I usually avoid mixed groups because of that.) Perhaps men feel more reluctant to share in a venue where they will me vulnerable.
    But to the main question, I think that women grow up believing they are never good enough. Not pretty enough (make-up), not thin enough (stomach stapling), not young enough (face lifts, hair coloring), not smart enough (more education than men). Women are less likely to ask for promotions and raises. So it makes sens that women are always looking to improve and be better.

  5. Jo Hardy says:

    Hi Anne!

    Jo from Extraordinary Golf. I always love checking out what you’re up to.

    On the question of spirituality, I would suggest that golf has some sort of spiritual pull for men. They use different words to describe it, but when I hear them talk about particular shots and ask them what’s underneath that, they speak of some experience–state of being-beyond the shot. Spirituality seems to come in different shapes and forms.
    Best,
    J

  6. Thanks for all the great comments! Odviously this is something we all seem to need in some form or another, and it’s interesting to hear all the forms it takes for people.

  7. delta waters says:

    as a former self-help consumer i speak from the heart when i say that at a certain point, we women need to stop buying the books and look inside. trust what you find. you are your best guru…

  8. Nice post Anne…I think we are moving from the world of self-help to self-understanding and knowing. As Delta Waters says…’we have to stop buying the books and look inside.’ I agree, however we need the books as guides, but the real work is the ‘practice’….the practice of being kind and loving to ourselves first and then extend that love and kindness to our friends and family…in that order. The most important relationship we will ever have is the one with self…and we have to keep focused on building our inner core…our inner wealth.
    Spirituality I don’t think is a boomer thing, a woman thing or a man thing…it’s a human thing. I believe to achieve the balance and joy we seek in our lives we must feed and tend to our spiritual self…our core…our inner wealth. Usually this part of our lives is left wanting and leaves us feeling empty, joyless and depleted. ‘We are really spiritual beings having a human experience.’
    Dance more, sing more, meditate more, connect and converse with friends in person more, walk in nature more, play the sport you love more, etc… take time to do the things you love and provides you a calm feeling on the inside…this is spiritually…this is building our inner wealth.
    Our motto at The ACADEMi of Life is: ‘Man Know thyself…because the unexamined life is not worth living.’

  9. So, your question “If it’s so easy to put your life on the right track, why don’t we?” has always puzzled me. I don’t have an answer – I only have more questions but perhaps it is the same inclination that makes them all happen. Why are there unwanted pregnancies when we know what to do to prevent it? Why do people try drugs and get hooked even when they know the long-lasting effects? Is it just laziness? Perhaps someone can help us answer these Anne.

  10. Sandi,
    Do you think we’re lazy, or is it just that like, losing weight, it takes a lifetime of hard work?
    The pregnancy issue, I think, is a little different because it’s so politicized. If there wasn’t the lack of education about birth control and there was easy access to inexpensive/free and effective birth control that would be a giant step in the right direction, don’t you think?

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