The Key to Loving Your Age - no matter how old you are
My birthday was last month. I turned 51. You know those birthday cards that make jokes about how old you’re getting? I actually didn’t get any of those this year, but when I was shopping for cards for my step-mom and my aunt (we all celebrate on the same day), I came across a lot of them! I would not say that these cards will help you to love your age…
You might recognize some of these normal “happy birthday card messages” I saw on the racks:
- We all know that some birthdays can be rough on a person and I really wanted to say something supportive….sorry you got old.
- Lying about your age will be easier now that you have trouble remembering what it is.
- Another birthday? Don’t worry, you don’t look a day older than what you tell everyone!
- Age is just a number…In your case, a pretty big number!
- Don’t think of yourself as getting older . . . You are, of course, but it’s best not to think of it! Happy Birthday!
if you’re struggling with the fact that you’re getting older, humor might be a good thing…
Now, if you’re struggling with the fact that you’re getting older, humor might be a good thing…or a card like this might just be another reminder of what you feel are feeling badly about.
For much of my life, having another birthday didn’t really bother me. Oh, I’m 30 – no big deal – and 40 was fine with me. But then 45 meant I was close to 50, which DID sound old. As I got closer and closer to 50, I was definitely feeling a bit unnerved.
Now, at 51, I look at myself in the mirror and I see gray hairs, sagging skin, strange brownish spots, and a new wrinkle regularly. Things like this remind us daily of our “lost youth.”
I often hear women making comments about being old, not being able to do the things they used to do, not being the size they were in high school, no longer getting “noticed” for their looks, whether they should color their hair, and whether or not they “should” wear certain clothing items at their age.
Mourning Your Youth
One of the midlife women in a Facebook group I belong to mentioned that when she goes to the gym, she feels out of place with all of the younger women/girls. She said she misses being young and asked how others handle these feelings of “mourning their youth.”
A lot of people agreed with her. And, there were tons of people in the group that responded with various posts of encouragement and support:
- I just remind myself that I had my turn being young and played it well.
- Well, remember, back then, there was more to worry about like jobs, money, kids, etc. The later years are a reward.
- Yeah, and remember they have another 30-40 years of work ahead of them!
- We need to embrace all ages, shapes, sizes.
As I said, a lot of the women in the group agreed that they also miss their younger selves.
One of the most common responses, however, was:
Be grateful that your body has gotten you here; be thankful for all that you’ve done and how far you’ve come.
There’s the Good, Bad & Ugly at Every Age
Each age and phase of life has its pros and cons, the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult. In your teens, the best part may have been the freedom from responsibility, but remember those days when your fought horribly with your parents?
In your twenties, the upside may have been having lots of fun and dating and the downside may have been dating disasters and heartbreaking moments.
In your thirties, maybe the greatest thing was becoming a mom and the challenges were managing motherhood and working outside the home.
In your forties, perhaps you felt more comfortable managing life, but you experienced major relationship difficulties or even a divorce.
Then, there are all of the other things that life throws at us – physical and mental health issues, your children’s struggles, losing a job, loss of a loved one (human or pet), financial stress or hardship, etc.
So, now in our fifties, there continues to be ups and downs. Life IS ups and downs. The so called “downs” aren’t interrupting our lives – they are our lives.
The most common response by the women who posted in that Facebook group focused on the concept of being grateful. And then I realized – THAT is the key!
What is the one thing you can do to be happy with your age, no matter what it is?
Gratitude is proven to improve your life overall. Seriously, proven…. read this: 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round.
If you’re like me, you love simple things that you can do to make life easier and make you feel better. (I’m not quite so quick to jump on the bandwagon if it’s not easy.) And practicing gratitude is EASY. I have had some experience with practicing gratitude, but not a lot. So…I’m going to start!
6 Popular Ways to Practice Gratitude
1. Gratitude Jar: I actually started a box for people in my family to drop notes into about things that happened for which they are thankful – to be opened at the end of the year. (Yes, I’m the only one who has dropped in notes….so far! Hey, it’s only July!)
2. Gratitude Prompts: On a regular basis, maybe monthly – when you’re reviewing your calendar and planning for the month – write down things in response to one or more of the following prompts:
- I’m grateful for three things I hear:
- I’m grateful for three things I see:
- I’m grateful for three things I smell:
- I’m grateful for three things I touch/feel:
- I’m grateful for these three things I taste:
- I’m grateful for these three things about myself:
- I’m grateful for these three things about my childhood:
- I’m grateful for these three friends:
- I’m grateful for these three teachers:
- I’m grateful for these three experiences:
- I’m grateful for these three things that make life easier:
- I’m grateful for these three things about my job:
3. Gratitude Walk: take a walk with the purpose of noticing things along the way for which you can be thankful.
4. Gratitude Letter: Write a letter (or email) thanking someone for what they do or have done for you or something that you admire about that person.
5. Gratitude Meditation: During your quiet time, think about things that make you feel gratitude in this moment.
6. Journaling: While researching information for this post, I came across an episode of Marie TV where Marie Forleo shares about an interesting 10-week study on gratitude done by the University of Southern California.
They found that being more specific in your gratitude journaling practice leads to feeling more “elated, excited, and alert.” The group that experienced the most rewards had picked one thing for which they were grateful and wrote five things about it.
I’m going to start doing this tomorrow. As I said, anything that is proven to work and is this simple – I can do!
It’s normal to sometimes mourn your youth. And yes, at times there may be a twinge of regret for things you wish you had done when you were younger. And now that you are wiser, you may think, if only I would have done X or gone to Y or not done Z.
But let these be just moments that bring you back to now and all that you have and all that you are right here today in this moment. Practice gratitude and I bet you’ll find that you can be happy with your age, today and every day!
How about trying the Gratitude exercise with me? Every day, write down one thing for which you are grateful and list five specific reasons why. Keep me posted on how it goes! Email anytime: Lisa@midlifepursuits.com.
Please leave a comment below so that we can support one another as we pursue new things in midlife!
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