Why do we celebrate milestone birthdays like 50 or 60 with black balloons and the timeless yet oh-so-not clever “Over the hill” slogan? Sure, we may not run as fast or do as many push-ups as a few years ago, but it’s hardly time to get put out to pasture.
When you Google best life over 50, the search results are depressing; 10 Best Senior Dating Sites, Male Menopause, Divorce at 50, Prostate Health, 6 Best Life Insurance Providers. It seems like every line contains a combination of old, retired, and some life-threatening disease.
They make it sound like we live in a black and white sitcom. Our lives suddenly reduced to walking around the house in a cardigan and slippers smoking a pipe while reading the newspaper. We’re not Ward Cleaver, and our second or third act doesn’t involve yelling at the neighbor kids to get off our lawn. Life after 50 isn’t what it used to be!
The craziest idea is that, unlike our parent’s generation, we didn’t toil away at some daily grind just to sit back and run out the clock. Hell no! We’re Michael Jordan with a lead in the third quarter. It’s time to press, talk some smack, and leave it all on the court. When this game’s over, we’ll be holding the trophy with confetti raining from the rafters.
Why Life is Better After 50
In his book The Happiness Curve, author Jonathan Rauch looked at the life satisfaction data of almost 300 people. Additionally, he combined the results of his questionnaire with interviews of happiness experts and personal anecdotes. He discovered that people feel worse about their lives beginning in their 30s and throughout their 40s. Not until age 50 do we begin the upward curve towards satisfaction and happiness.
These feelings were independent of health, income, and social status. So what happens that makes this magical birthday the gateway to a better life for almost everyone?
At a particular stage of life, we become less interested in the competitive aspects of work and careers. If we haven’t made partner at the firm, decided to work for ourselves, or become a multi-millionaire by now, it’s probably not going to happen, and we’re okay with it.
It’s not that you’ve lost your ambition, just that your priorities have changed. Instead of the stress of reaching that next rung on the ladder, you’d rather tour the Greek Isles with your partner, learn to fly a plane or write a book.
Shrug It Off
Finally, you’ve decided not to give a damn about what other people think. It takes a lot to embarrass you because of a developed sense of humility. Why should you tip-toe around other people’s warped sense of social norms?
We’re not talking about adopting cretinous behaviors or becoming a jerk. You’re simply comfortable in your own skin and finished trying to impress people. What others think of you is their problem, not yours.
You’ve lived on this planet for over half a century, so you likely know what’s best for you. Bad decisions are a lot easier to identify after years of life experience. You’re probably much less of an impulsive decision-maker and understand the circumstances surrounding your choices.
Of course, a second piece of cheesecake or another beer isn’t out of the question. But the chances that you risk it all on Bitcoin or buy a new Corvette are significantly lower.
Enough is Enough
How long did it take you to realize that the culture of more, more, more was too much? Like most Americans, society brainwashed you into the idea of whatever you have; more is always better. There are consequences for our insatiable lust to upgrade everything.
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), people working over 55 hours per week have a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% greater chance of dying from heart disease? If you didn’t know the statistics until now, you probably thought to yourself, “That seems about right.”
You figured out that the trade-off of working yourself to death for a bigger house, fancier car, or shinier whatever just isn’t worth it.
What do all these newfound realizations have to do with living your best life? Well, it boils down to one thing – FREEDOM!
That’s the word your Google search results should include because you’re now free from the pressures of living the life you believe you’re supposed to live. The shackles of expectations, yours and others, are open.
Like Michael Jordan playing basketball, you understand that the game of life is 90% mental. If you want to live your best life, you need to decide to make it a priority. You get to pick and choose your happiness by replacing “have to” with “want to” in your daily vocabulary.
You’re 50. It’s your time!
How are you going to use your freedom? The confetti is waiting.
Take care, even down there.
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