In today’s youth obsessed society, it was refreshing to see the BBC World Service promote the wisdom of ages through a week dedicated to the life experience of the older generation. The BBC’s #GrannyWisdom week saw young stars of social media posting conversations with their grandmothers, dispensing their advice on topics ranging from love to mental health to overcoming adversity. Featuring highlights from those social media posts as well as discussions, the Granny Wisdom radio programme was an inspired idea – hopefully narrowing the gulf that can exist between young and old unless you’re a regular user of SnapChat!
Of course, no one can presume to have all the answers, but as all older people were once young, then it makes sense to share the benefits of experience. And the good news is that studies show giving advice has benefits beyond helping the recipient.
A new study reveals that individuals in their 60’s who give advice to a broad range of people tend to see their lives as especially meaningful. At the same time, this happens to be the age when opportunities for dispensing advice become increasingly scarce.
According to the study, which appears in the March issue of Social Psychology Quarterly, individuals in their 60’s who report giving advice to a wide variety of people — to family members, friends, neighbors, and strangers — see their lives as highly meaningful, while adults in that age group who dispense advice to fewer types of people are much less likely to report high life meaning.
“This association between advice giving and life meaning is not evident for other age groups,” said Markus H. Schafer, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto and the lead author of the study. “Overall, we interpret these findings to suggest that the developmental demands of late midlife — particularly the desire to contribute to others’ welfare and the fear of feeling ‘stagnant’ — fit poorly with the social and demographic realities for this segment of the life course. Just when giving advice seems to be most important, opportunities for doing so seem to wane.”
Of course, giving advice when it’s not wanted won’t ever be welcome – so choose who you share your wisdom with wisely!
Listen to #GrannyWisdom by clicking here.