Five Minutes With... Harry (Rick) Moody

Harry (Rick) Moody is the Director of the Institute for Human Values in Aging, affiliated with the International Longevity Center. Dr. Moody is the author of over 80 scholarly articles, as well as a number of books, including "Ethics in an Aging Society" and "The Five Stages of the Soul." He has served in numerous academic and research capacities. He is known nationally for his work in older adult education and is currently Chairman of the Board of Elderhostel. He is the Editor of the "Human Values in Aging UPDATE" e-mail newsletter and "Aging and the Human Spirit" print newsletter published by the University of Texas Medical Branch. To subscribe to the e-mail newsletter, contact, or visit

Picture of H. R. Moody

ECO: Why are we so afraid of getting old?

Moody: We're afraid of dying and losing control. We have the illusion that we created ourselves and are in charge of our lives. Aging threatens that illusion, which is central to narcissism.

ECO: Denial of one's own aging (and often the debilitation that comes with it) is so prevalent in our society. How can we accept and even embrace our own physical decline?

Moody: It's not easy to do this unless we believe in some higher order of meaning or spiritual growth: what many have called "Conscious Aging." We may not easily "embrace" decline but we can learn to see it differently, provided we come to recognize something in us that does NOT decline. This is what we need to look for: "Seek and ye shall find."

ECO: If "aging" is all in your head, what are some tools for introspection?

Moody: Aging isn't "all in your head." Biological senescence appears across the whole chain of organic life. Don't take it personally. But tools for introspection are important. Some of the most important dimensions of "Conscious Aging" are lifelong learning, late-life creativity, psychological understanding (for example, through dreams), and meditation and spiritual practices.

ECO: What is the secret to a good life?

Moody: Putting first things first and recognizing what is important and what endures in life, what outlives the self. Cultivating the virtues of patience and honesty -- devotion to truth. Remembering God.

ECO: What is the secret to a good death?

Moody: Start early recognizing that you are not in control. As the Sufis say, "Die before you die."

Recommended Reading:

- "In the Ever After: Fairy Tales for the Second Half of Life" by Allen Chinen (hard to find)
- "The Measure of My Days" by Florida Scott-Maxwell
- "Still Here" by Ram Dass
- "From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older" by Zalman Schachter
- "The Five Stages of the Soul: Charting the Spiritual Passages that Shape Our Lives" by Harry (Rick) Moody

Available from ElderCare Online™                2002 Prism Innovations, Inc.