When we are running around in our 30’s and on, getting older is something that most people dread. But what if instead of getting worse, life got better in many ways? Here are 5 things I wish I knew earlier on.
1. Your Happiness Increases
If you think that the happiest years are when you are younger, and after that everything goes downhill, that’s something we are used to seeing in the culture, but it is not the way life plays out. Research based on the U-curve of happiness reports that stress increases and happiness decreases during 20’s or 30’s, when people are trying to get established and around 45-50 it is at its lowest. That’s a time of multiple responsibilities (work, family, financial, taking care of parents and more). The good news is that with each passing decade, our state of happiness gets better and better. The 50’s are better than the 40’s, the 60’s are even better than the 50’s and so on. There’s greater peace and freedom waiting for you, and you can get a head start with what I’ll tell you next:
So many of us are conditioned to be people-pleasers, and to put others needs before our own. There’s also a huge amount of pressure, much of it from social media to look a certain way, to dress a certain way, to have the latest gadgets. Realize that this is all commercially driven – to make us feel insecure so we buy more stuff. It has nothing to do with how worthy you are. That’s something that is with you always, if and when you break through these false messages to connect with your core essence. That is a way to supercharge your life from the inside, and set you free from the comparison culture. That tends to happen as people get older. Which leads us to:
There’s so much pressure to fit into someone else’s definition of success, it’s more important to be aware of what that means to you. What values are most important to you? What kind of work makes you engaged and curious? What puts you into a flow state where hours feel like minutes? That just may be your calling, which is much more meaningful that just working another crappy job. There’s a saying “The purpose of your life is to discover your gift. The work of your like is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” Earlier in life it’s all about finding and developing your gift – that thing that lights you up, and resonates with your unique self. Knowing this purpose and building your work around it is what the Japanese call Ikigai. Don’t wait to put your attention there.
Energy is contagious – when you walk into a room and someone is laughing their head off, you’re likely to start laughing too, even if you haven’t heard the joke. If you walk into a room, and someone is deeply depressed, it’s hard not to feel those vibes. We get to choose or even curate our friends; this is important for any age. Because as we change and grow, others don’t necessarily. So don’t hang around “crabs” that want to pull you back into the bucket – make sure you are with people who encourage you to go after your dreams, and stand as the best version of yourself. If you feel depleted, that a sign that something needs to change. Which leads us to :
If you want to have more agency in your life, and who doesn’t, one secret is to be able to MANAGE your energy. Viktor Frankl has a quote. “Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our responses. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” If you can take a pause before reacting, and decide how you want to show up, this is a huge advantage in life. If you are the Chief Strategist in your life, and you are, this will serve you well. Also, we are not taught communication skills – learn them. That will help you. Here’s one more aspect – take care to replenish yourself, energetically, emotionally, physically and spiritually – find a couple of healthy ways to do this and also don’t forget to play – that works whatever age you are.
One final note – I now know that life has a way of working out – to stress less and enjoy the individual moments more. Gratitude and love are what we remember most, and through that lens, it’s both a wild and wonderful ride…
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