Objectively reviewing accusations made about us during an encounter is another path for self-discovery. The older adults used both left and right hippocampi in the tasks, whereas the younger adults used primarily their left. These findings are consistent with those from studies of other brain regions showing greater use of both brain hemispheres in older people. I hypothesize that using both hippocampi during recall of life events creates a richer, more vivid experience because the brain is drawing on a broader palette of resources for the task. The intuitive, holistic, and nonverbal brain skills that typically reside in the right hemisphere can bring an added benefit to the task of memory recall. Using both hippocampi may also simply make recollection itself a more vivid and pleasurable activity. I think the brain, in effect, relishes the chance to deal with autobiography in later life--and to do so using both engines, so to speak. I see autobiography and the larger processes and behaviors of summing up as a bit like chocolate to the brain in later life--a sumptuous activity. Closely tied to the urge to organize and summarize one's life is a desire to give back in some way to family, the community, or the world at large. In my retirement study, almost everyone in their seventies is involved in some form of volunteerism, a trait that remains strong at least through the next decade. This is not simply because older people have no options for paying work. I liked the challenge of trying to win, especially against the backdrop of not wanting to be embarrassed if I were to lose. It was an exhilarating risk to take. I lost both times I ran. Good stuff. It was humiliating and disappointing and hard to deal with the feeling that I must not have been good enough or didn't work hard enough or hadn't been likable enough. Something in the 'enough' department felt like it was lacking in that real-time processing of the losses, but in both cases, I look back now and see how powerfully important those losses were for me in how I grew into who I'd become. It was through that lens that I immediately insisted Jackson go for it. His first question was, 'Should I run? ' I gave the emphatic 'Yes!

' Most of us will have picked up this belief in our childhoods. What rubbish! Of course we're worthy of our own self-love! So drop the guilt, dear soul - and love thyself. Find a quiet time and space in your day and put it aside as a time to give yourself a bit of love. Lie down on the couch and put your hand on your heart. FEEL your heart. Imagine love coming through your hand and into your heart. Breathe it in take your own love in - deeply! RECEIVE your own love. A great example of strategic recharging is el Bulli, a restaurant in Spain that was the subject of an incredible article called A Day at el Bulli: An Insight into the Ideas, Methods and Creativity of Ferran Adria by Albert Adria and Juli Soler. While it was open, the restaurant was widely considered the best in the world--2 million people requested reservations annually. Adria, the chef, was known for carefully planning and preparing 35-plus-course meals. Through drawings, diagrams, research, chemistry experiments, even manufacturing their own tools, the team would be relentless in their preparations so they could consistently lead people through mind-blowing dining experiences. They ended up creating 1,846 unique dishes and became the best in the world at what they do. But get this: el Bulli was closed for 6 months a year. The most successful restaurant in the world was only open half the year. The team would spend the other half of the year deconstructing, planning, learning, and creating. That's a serious commitment to performance, recharging, and continuous growth.

We simply cannot hold our attention and focus completely on one thing all the time (unless you are a Zen monk who has been practising in a monastery for decades). Carnivore diet? Protein sans vegetables. The Mediterranean diet? Protein with an emphasis on fish over red meat, plus vegetables. Intermittent fasting? When you do eat, you are encouraged to eat a good source of protein plus vegetables. Even the best versions of the old-school low-fat diets were - wait for it - protein plus vegetables. Think skinless chicken breasts plus steamed broccoli. In addition to being similar, all of these diets boast similar benefits. In consuming whole foods instead of the preprocessed staples of the standard American diet, our digestive systems must work hard to break down cellular structures in order to extract a food's nutritional value (from the chewing and grinding of our teeth, to the acid bath of our stomach, to the enzymatic breakdown in our intestine). Gaining the neutrality and objectivity needed to review these accusations is definitely an exercise in letting go of the ego. Sometimes the accusations are way off the mark, but surprisingly often there is a grain of truth to be found, and sometimes the accusations are totally true and our ego simply doesn't want to let go of its defensive stance. We may not like the truth we discover about ourselves. When this happens we have yet another opportunity for exercising compassion. Everyone acts unskillfully from time to time. All of us have some unpleasant corners in our psyche. That nobody behaves perfectly all the time seems pretty obvious, but it is amazing how much we demand and expect ourselves to do just this! Mercy, or compassion in action, has magic qualities. As we vaporize our own self- judgment, down come the walls of judgment that keep us from having compassion for others.

I mention this again because even subtle judgment of others and their behavior is a major impediment to our being heard. As we will see in article 7, older adults have more opportunities than ever to work if they want to. Nevertheless, many older people volunteer. In a national study reported by AARP in 2003, for example, 40 percent of survey participants seventy or older were involved in formal volunteer activities through some form of organization; when informal volunteer activities not in conjunction with an established organization were included, the proportion rose to 80 percent. Formal philanthropy is common among people in the summing up phase. When participants in the retirement study are asked, 'What gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life? ' one of the most common answers is making a contribution that helps others. My wife's great-uncle, Harold Alfond, the son of poor Russian immigrants, started from next to nothing, worked hard, and eventually founded the Dexter Shoe Company in Maine. He later invented the factory outlet store and became a part-owner of the Boston Red Sox. When I interviewed him at eighty-nine, he was clearly in the summing up phase, giving back to his community and society through extensive monetary contributions and teaching about methods for effective philanthropy. His second question was, 'What if I lose? ' Without missing a beat, I challenged him with a higher-pitched 'So what if you lose? ! ' With that, he decided to run, and the platform 'Stronger Together' was born. Posters were made. Campaigning kicked off. He wrote and delivered a speech to the student body. He felt confident of his chances to win.

On the eve of the election, I found myself in the strange position of weighing which outcome I was actually rooting for. Feel your own goodness, your own beauty, your tenderness. Breathe love into that place. We don't need to need someone else to do this for us - we can do it ourselves! Just practise giving yourself love. At first, it may feel painful, or a bit weird, but try this once a day (before going to bed works well) and in no time at all you'll be totally getting this 'self-love' thing! There are pretty much two ways to live in this world: one is from the ego, the other is from the heart. And I believe that the best way to go - to follow the spiritual path - is all about living from the heart. The ego is like a shell covering our real self. Only the world is calling out for us all to drop our egos and let down our guard a bit these days. To start living from the heart. We need to alternate between deep focus when we have tasks to do or experiences to enjoy and allowing our bodies, minds, and emotions to recharge so we can be ready for our next deep dive into all that life has to offer. One of the most effective articulations I have seen of this principle is in a article titled Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magnus. They came up with a simple formula for performance that is incredibly powerful: stress plus rest equals growth. So often in the name of excellence we skip the rest and recharge part. We just can't. If you are seeking a life of peak performance and deep satisfaction, you need to hardwire opportunities to recharge into your life. About a year ago, my wife, Judith, and I were having dinner. During our conversation, she suddenly looked at me intently and said, 'We need to talk. ' I slowly reached for my glass of wine and took a sip.