6. We’re not in a hurry all the time.
Likely in your twenties, thirties, and forties, you had a full-time job, tried to grow your career, reared children, served on committees, and on and on. Sometimes it was hard to catch your breath and enjoy life as it happened.
Now you are probably still busy, still working, still living an active life, but likely you are also juggling a little less, over the hardest part of the learning curve, and able to slow down a little. Make the most of it. Life goes by fast anyway; we don’t need to make it feel faster by not savoring the moment. The clock, like any tool or technology, should serve us, not be our master.
7. We are in a unique position to help those both younger and older than we are.
We’re right in the middle. We know more and have experienced more than those who are younger, and we can tell them things about life we wish someone had told us. We have likely gained some perspective that can help us and others.
We also probably have more strength and ability in some areas than those older than us. We can drive them where they need to go, shop for them, or just listen. They’ve been where we are – now we can pay some of it back, and still learn from them as well.
Some people call this the “sandwich generation,” where we face the demands of children and parents. But we can also benefit from this place in the middle, learning from and teaching the generations on either side of us.
Take just two examples:
1. Technology – likely those younger than us know more about modern technology than we do, and can teach us some of its uses and benefits. It’s also likely that we already know more about such things than those older than us, and we can patiently help them to use the benefits of technology as well.
2. Culture – while we have lived history that happened before later generations were even born, and can teach them about former ways of life, we can also benefit from the viewpoint of youth, renewing our energy, enthusiasm, and the sense of what is possible. Similarly we can keep learning from those who lived before us, and share our somewhat younger perspective with them.
8. Age doesn’t really matter so much, so we can be more open to friendships with those older and younger than ourselves.
This is basically a continuation of point 7, but it’s about more than just learning and helping, but about a true personal exchange with a variety of people of different ages and ways of thinking. When we view others, whatever their age, with an open mind and heart, we can broaden our viewpoint, deepen our empathy, and have meaningful exchanges that enrich everyone involved.
We may even try new things we’d never considered before, and enjoy spending time with people we might previously have overlooked.
My whole life I’ve enjoyed friendships with people much older than me, but more recently, as I’m less and less often the youngest person in the room, I’m learning to enjoy friendships with people much younger than me as well, and it does help me feel younger too.
9. There is still plenty we can do now to help to improve our physical and mental health in the coming decades.
We can keep using our bodies and our minds, learn new things, eat well, make a contribution, and take care of ourselves and our relationships in countless beneficial ways.
What we do, and don’t do, what we eat, and don’t eat, how we take care of ourselves, how active we are, physically and mentally, can help or harm our well-being as we age. This one, with some research, could become its own post. What do you think?
10. We can have fun.
Since we probably have fewer “have-to-do’s” in our lives, we have more time for “want-to- do’s.” What do you really want to do with the time and energy you have? This time of life is a great opportunity to have fun, seek adventure, and view the remaining years as full of possibility.
We also don’t care as much about what people think, and many in their late middle years have grand-children, so there are built-in excuses to play and try being young again.
Personally I love reading children’s books, both those I remember fondly from my childhood, and those written more recently. I love the sense of innocence and “anything is possible,” as well as the realism and psychological insight that many new books for children and teenagers feature. It’s a great way to tap into youthful thinking, to play, and to de-stress with the soothing ritual of a “bedtime story.”
If our development is reversed, in the sense that the elderly are sometimes considered child-like again, our middle years can be a kind of second adolescence. A better one because there’s less teenage angst, fewer rules, no high-school, and more freedom, but there can still be a sense of anticipation, energy, and possibility.
If adolescents are starting their adult lives, we late middles are re- starting them. It’s time to rejuvenate and consider, with a sense of excitement, what possibilities can still lie ahead for us.
In my last post, I admitted that I would actually consider 10 great things about being 50 plus, instead of 50. But I challenge you to keep adding to your own list, and I’ll do the same.