BEE HEARD: Flourish!

Way back in the 1960s, Erik Erikson defined eight stages of psychosocial development. His theory was that if a person were to have a healthy sense of self, each stage would need to be completed successfully in order to move on to the next one. These stages would ideally be mastered within a given time frame. However, stages can be mastered at any point in a person’s life. 

Erikson called the stage of life between the ages of 30-64 “middle age.” Being firmly planted in my middle age years and working with many clients of a similar age, one theme keeps coming up time and time again. “How do I continue to stay relevant as I age?”  

The challenge here as defined by Erikson is “Generativity vs. Stagnation.” In other words, how does one continue to contribute to one’s family, one’s workplace, the community, and the world in general as one ages? How does one continue to generate ideas and remain relevant? 


There are several ideas in the research literature I have come across that seem to not only work for me but work for others as well. I will list a few of them below: 


  • STAY CURIOUS! According to psychologist Todd Kashdan, “Choosing to explore the unknown rather than avoid it is the key to a rich, meaningful life.” When you explore an idea and curiosity is satisfied, the brain is rewarded with a hit of dopamine. In other words, it feels good to be a life-long, curious, learner. And it can make you a real hit at social events!  


  • MARVEL! Allow yourself to find awe and wonder in your environment. Have you ever heard the expression, “Stop and smell the roses?” Have you ever really looked at the way a rose is constructed and allowed yourself to feel the awe and wonder that is nature? This unique neurobiological response when the system is flooded with stimuli that are visual, auditory, tactile, or olfactory is known as awe. Allowing yourself to enter a state of awe helps the brain to downregulate and allows neurotransmitters to flood the system causing a state of euphoria. You feel a part of something much bigger than you. Some people even describe this as a religious experience.   


  • PLAY! Play positively impacts cognitive function. Whether you join a sports league, finish a difficult crossword puzzle, or learn a new computer game, playing improves your reaction speed, critical thinking, and communication skills. These are important in keeping the mind sharp and you’ll have fun doing it!  


  • CREATE! Creativity is the ability to imagine and come up with original ideas that open you up to what is possible. It could be coming up with a new recipe from the ingredients in your pantry or telling your grandchild a made-up bedtime story. Letting go of “how it’s supposed to be” and entering into a creative mind set is known as a “flow state.” Entering a flow state increases alpha brain waves which are connected to mindfulness and meditation. Flow states are what enhance peak performances whether you are writing a piece of music, creating an artistic masterpiece, or, as I always say, “solving all the world’s problems on a nice, long, run.” 


In summation: Be CURIOUS, MARVEL, PLAY, and CREATE! It’s good medicine!  

Here’s to your good health! 


It’s okay not to feel okay 


If you or someone you know has been struggling with their emotions, behaviors, or substance use please reach out to us. We can help you find appropriate tools and services that could help you overcome obstacles in your life. We are here for you. Please contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division at 970-563-5700 for more information or to set up an appointment to see a counselor or therapist.  

Reminder: If you need to talk to someone, please reach out. 

  And for those interested in opioid use education, harm reduction, and support, please contact us for quick Naloxone (Narcan) training and fentanyl test strips. We can schedule individual, family, or friends training times at our Southern Ute Behavioral Health Building, or we can come to you, and the training is around 30 minutes. Please call us at 970-563-5700 to set up a training appointment. 


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