Bruce Frankel

Author of the new book "What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life."

The Writer’s Voice Interview: How To Find Fulfillment

August 26, 2010

Yesterday, Francesca Rheannon’s interview with me aired on her wonderful radio show The Writer’s Voice.

It was a pleasure to speak with her a little about writer Harry Bernstein, erotic art collector Naomi Wilzig, filmmaker Alidra Solday, and dancer Thomas Dwyer, among others.

My interview is paired with a fascinating interview with Susan Whitbourne about The Search for Fulfillment: Revolutionary New Research that Reveals the Secret to Long-Term Happiness, her book about her 40-year study which has tracked a group of nearly 200 Baby Boomers from college to retirement.

Take a listen:

Writer’s Voice


The purpose of Whitbourne’s study was to discover what factors influence life direction and fulfillment. She says that people generally follow one of five life pathways:  Meandering Way, Downward Slope, Straight and Narrow Way, Triumphant Trail, or Authentic Road.

In the interview, Whitbourne, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, speaks of some of the troubles people get into following “the meandering way”—constantly moving between jobs, locations, and relationships, ever unsatisfied—as well as the surprising amount of unhappiness she found among some of her most outwardly successful subjects who had followed “the straight and narrow way”—the rigid path laid out early to please others.

While perhaps it comes as no surprise that fulfillment is found following the “authentic way”—when how one lives is aligned with one’s inner values, it’s interesting to hear that a careful study of behavior over four decades bears out the same truth I discovered writing the stories of people like Dana Dakin, Thomas Dwyer, Loretta Thayer, Robert Iadeluca, Betty Reid Soskin and the others in What Should I Do With The Rest Of My Life?

In the current issue of AARP, the magazine, Jamie Katz writes about other late-bloomers who found ways to release their inner talents in his article Find Your Inner Genius.


“We never lose the potential to learn new things as we grow older,” says Gay Hanna, head of the National Center for Creative Aging. “In fact, we can master new skills and be creative all our lives.”

Environmental factors and willpower are just as important as wiring. “Genes impact our lives,” says David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us, “but our lives also impact our genes—the brain changes shape according to the experiences it has.”

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