Book Review: “Aging Strong: Living it Forward and Giving it Back” by Bud Harris, Ph.D

| Reviewed by Melinda Q. Toney, MD |

Longevity has increased significantly in the past century giving us an average of 20 more years of life, thanks to medical advances, nutrition, and safety. As one who is at the ‘end’ of the post-WW II baby boom, and as a medical practitioner and presenter, I find myself deeply considering these compelling questions as well as encouraging my patients, clients, and audiences to consider also:

How do I continue to be at the helm of my ship as my body becomes less able?

How do I contend with growing vulnerabilities and the infirmities of aging?

Am I living a life worth living? How do I leave this world a better place?

We currently live in a culture that continues to embrace the golden reign of materialism and reductionism – hypertrophied as if on steroids, yet folding in on itself. This orientation brings along with it a nagging, stark sense of emptiness where identity is based on the things we own and what we accomplish, and where we chase after things that are supposed to bring us happiness and success yet actually numb us from truly living. This kind of cultural orientation also inherently disregards its elders and promotes the ‘retire, then die’ scenario, and tucks its elders away into numbing institutions.

Yet, with this new awareness of extended longevity, we can begin to open our eyes and our imaginations to re-consider what this period of our lives can be. As we approach, or are actually in the fourth quarter of our lives, we don’t have to go along with the ‘business as usual’ numbness and limitations of this culture. We can explore what is truly authentic and meaningful for ourselves… and, as we pioneer this new, healthy approach, we can actually help ourselves as well contribute significantly to the vitality and renewal of our culture.

Rather than living in anticipatory trepidation over the imminent dropping of the other and final shoe, we can take a different stance. We can go beyond our culture’s current perspective. We can become aware and deeply connect with what is emerging from within us in order to live out the true meaning and purpose of our lives. In fact, baby-boomers can lead the pack in this endeavor! Instead of succumbing to the superficial societal protocol for a successful life, like automatons, we can explore how to live authentically from the depths of our being. Of course, this requires the courage as well as a commitment to fully show up as our true selves.

In his new book Aging Strong: Living it Forward and Giving it Back, Jungian analyst Bud Harris, Ph.D. helps us understand that we actually do live in a new reality today – that we are living much longer than a few generations ahead of us did. He also emphasizes that we do not have the support of a vibrant cultural perspective about this reality that could encourage us to view this period of our life more dynamically and to prepare for it. Thus, he proposes, “We need to create a new vision of the future for our selves with new horizons.”

In this new book, Dr. Harris offers a very readable, self-transformational guide for viewing the fourth quarter of our lives in a whole new way. He provides an excellent, practical roadmap for exploring the inherent possibilities of how we can engage fully in life during this period. The book is actually for everyone in our culture who wants to regard the growing and aging process as a dynamic, enriching experience and as a way of engaging more fully in life. The book also provides the opportunity to get beyond the deep, personal and cultural fears that we associate with aging.

I am excited to have Aging Strong: Living it Forward and Giving it Back as a key reference for my practice as well as a dynamic, practical guide to recommend to my patients, clients, and others.

Melinda Q. Toney, M.D. is an Integrative family physician based in Asheville at Family to Family Medicine. She has studied a wide range of healing modalities and bridges many traditions and holistic approaches for honoring the whole person in the transformation process. She is passionate about multi-dimensional healing and has synthesized this approach into a service that she calls Chrysalis. For more info:, and also

with Melinda Toney, MD
Saturday January 7, 2017, 9am- 4pm
Jubilee Community Garden Room $99.

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