Life’s Five Phases

From Paul Bell

The last few posts I have written described what I currently seek and am aware of in my life, in order to make it fulfilling and joyful. However, we all pass through phases in our development, each with a focus upon different elements within our lives. For me, and for my children, it has been useful to be aware of what stage in life we are currently, in order to maximize the benefits of that stage and not to pass beyond it until we feel ready.

The first stage is an educative stage. Others around us are bringing out our potential, feeding us the methods, information, and knowledge we will find useful in our lives. Anyone who creates a passion and excitement for learning within us are our educators. Sadly, the formal education methods in many countries use this time to grade and sort the population. All the regular testing and examinations are not conducive to this potentially wonderful time of discovery and wonder. In fact, they help create a competitive and comparative society with the belief that this is a normal way for us to behave. Many education systems also believe that we should educate our population to fill the employment gaps in our economy, thus creating the utilitarian pegs to fit the required holes. That is a feeble attempt to bring out the potential in our children. In the current rapidly changing world, we certainly cannot predict the future. It would be better to create a flexible, confident, broadly educated population who are always keen to learn and grow. When James Campbell stated that “education is the expansion of the experience of being alive” there were very few limits and narrow goals.

Assuming that we were not too wounded or compressed by the last educative stage it is now time to thrive in the experiencing stage. Our cultural norm would like us to find a good job and career but there is still a great deal of hands-on learning through experimentation to do to understand our full potential. We are all trying a host of experiences currently. I wanted to climb mountains alone around the world and work and live in different cultures. It’s a time to truly open your mind and push your limits into experiential discovery.

Two very good stages but up to now a little self-centered. The next creative stage allows you to use all that you have discovered about yourself. I chose to start a family, build a house, create a business, make enough money to stay free and generally contribute creatively in as many ways as possible. Now is the time to create a career that suits who you have become, rather than you become the career you have chosen.

The next phase that I arrived at in my fifties was an expansive one. There were some pursuits that I wanted to expand into and now I had the time and energy to do so. It’s a great time to start something new in life, or delve deeper into something you enjoy, and expand your potential. I suspect that you are now thinking that each phase incorporates all the others. They do, it is just that each is more focused upon particular behaviors. The order of the stages may change to suit individuals but these that I am describing are reflected in the people I have watched developing. The true value of the idea is to make sure you incorporate each stage in your life’s journey.

The final stage always had me guessing, but now in my late sixties I realize that I am becoming more mindful. I have been reading similar books and philosophies for most of my life but now they have far more resonance with the way I feel and think. I am still a keen learner, I become excited, I still thrive on adventure, and I have great relationships, but my mind is certainly entering a different stage. It is easier to concentrate, listen deeply to music, smile at my emotions, and laugh when things go wrong. Letting things go has never been easier. I may eventually find myself discovering another stage to focus upon, but as with the other stages, this one feels just right for me in both mind and body.


Paul Bell lives a life of both physical and mental adventures. He is passionate about education and has enjoyed teaching and challenging children in the outdoors, and helping large project and company teams raise their performance levels. He currently lives and adventures in the Canadian Rockies, sails the Pacific coast and finds life very exciting.


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