For some, the fun has just begun

Updated: 2014-03-14 12:47

By Chen Yingqun (China Daily Europe)

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Author: The way Chinese treat aging not different to the way others do

Glass half full or half empty? To many people in China, being 50 years old means half of their life has passed, but Canadian writer Frank Moffatt takes the half-full view, saying their lives are just beginning.

Moffatt, 60, whose book Your Second Fifty is now being translated into Mandarin, sums up with three P's the way anyone should live their second half century: passionately, positively and productively.

"When you reach 50, you are in the best condition that you can be, to live the second half of your life to the best," Moffatt told an audience in Beijing recently.

"Your career is steady, your children are grown up, and it is a great time to do whatever you wanted to do but never got the chance before."

Moffatt's life experience reflects that. The day he turned 50, after spending 12 years managing the rock group The Moffats consisting of his sons Bob, Clint, Dave and Scott he jumped onto an aircraft bound for Thailand to start a new career as an English teacher. He ended up as general manager for TEFL International, a provider of English-language teacher training programs.

When he was 52, he says, he ran in the Bangkok marathon. Over the past 10 years he has written and self-published four books and has given motivational talks in more than 20 countries.

Your Second Fifty, which was written in 2005 in Thailand and published in 2006 in Indonesia, sold well in Southeast Asia and North America, Moffatt says, adding that he is now talking to publishers in Italy and Poland, and the book is being translated into Mandarin.

Moffatt, who used to accompany The Moffatts to China on tours also spent two years in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, where TEFL International has a branch, says that in the way they treat aging, Chinese are very similar to Westerners.

"Same fears, same need for love, and the same desires and dreams. Everyone works hard, and everyone cares about their family, and they all have fears about getting older."

Moffatt says that in China most people spend much of their later years looking after grandchildren, which is good, but that they should also be encouraged to pursue their dreams.

He has met many people over 50 complaining that "my life is over, my body aches, I can't remember anything", he says. However, such problems do not exist until people create them in their heads, he says.

"Too often when people reach the age of 50 they believe that their life is now on a downward trend. They have fallen prey to old myths and beliefs that at their age life is no longer productive, they will lose their memory, their bodies will fall apart, and this simply is not the case.

"I wrote the book and named it Your Second Fifty so that people would realize they have a great deal to live for and with a few adjustments to their thinking the second 50 can become their best 50."

In the book, he tackles self-limiting beliefs, tries to dispel myths about aging and gives advice on how to make the most of one's remaining years. So that people can live their lives to the fullest, Moffatt says, they need to talk to one another about how they are faring emotionally, financially, mentally, physically and spiritually, dimensions he emphasizes in his book.

Moffatt, born in Edmonton, Alberta, says he has always enjoyed helping others. When he was 6 he was at a picnic where many people were drinking beer and leaving bottles lying around. He collected them and traded them in for a huge bag of lollipops, he says. He then asked his mother to wrap each lollipop with wax paper, and took them to an orphanage.

"My parents thought it was strange, a 6-year-old child wanting to give candy to other children. But maybe that is who I am. I always want to help other people, see their potential and to be the best they can be."

Moffatt has spent much of his life coaching, teaching and training. When he was 13 he coached boys 6 years old and younger in ice hockey. Since then he has continued to coach at various levels of the game. He has also coached baseball and soccer teams. Later he studied marketing at university and worked for various companies.

His oldest son Scott came up with the idea of forming The Moffatts with his triplet brothers when he was 5, an idea their father helped become a reality.

"As a parent I believe if we are aware of the interests of our children and we support their interests, not our interests or what we think is best, our children will become exceptional, wherever their passion takes them."

For 12 years, Moffatt acted as his sons' manager and took them around the world. The band started out as a country music vocal group and had international success with their first pop album, Chapter 1: A New Beginning in 1998.

That album also won over many teenagers in China who saw the band perform in the country, including at the MTV Music Awards in Beijing in 2005.

Today Moffatt spends his time writing books, speaking and in motivational coaching. He has given such talks in more than 20 countries, he says.

"When I first wrote this book, I thought people over 50 needed it, but then I began to receive many letters from readers who were of various ages from around the globe saying that the book had helped them as well."

He has also established an online community where people can talk about their experiences, hopes and strengths.

"You should remember this: in your life, you can never complete anything by yourself," he says. "You always need help. Never be afraid to ask for help and never be afraid to offer help to others. People know that I will help them help themselves, if they ask for help".

Zheng Meifang, general manager of Zhejiang HK Graphics & Printing Ltd, which promoted Your Second Fifty at the Beijing International Book Fair last year, says a Chinese version of the book would be very helpful to those on the verge of 50.

"I think the problem of getting old is universal, especially for some Chinese people, who often feel useless and unneeded," she says. "It is important that they regain their confidence in living a cheerful and healthy life."

Inspired by many readers' responses, Moffatt is also making a documentary of the same theme by interviewing people worldwide.

When people over 50 are asked about their fears, the most frequent answer is a lack of money, loss of independence and loneliness, he says.

Gong Yihua, copyright manager of Shaanxi Science and Technology Press, who attended one of Moffatt's lectures and who has seen part of the documentary, says the writer's ideas are impressive. "I'm looking forward to the Chinese version of the book."

For some, the fun has just begun

Moffatt says people reaching 50 should live their second half of life to the hilt. Provided to China Daily

( China Daily European Weekly 03/14/2014 page28)