“Truthfully, I just don’t care what people think anymore.”
This is the most common thing I hear from myself, friends, and colleagues as we cross over 50. What a relief it is to know who you are and what you like and don’t like, and to no longer need to be worried about what others think. This internal shift is one of the biggest reasons moving into the second half of life is so joyful. Freedom from trying to fit in or please others invites us to look around and think about life completely differently.
Studies have shown people live longer and look younger than in previous generations. The good news is this extension is not tacked at the end of life, with a longer illness or decline. That’s still about the same. The additional 15 years are in the middle, so what used to be 65 is now closer to 80. This means most of us are entering “later in life” healthier and more vibrant than before. There is, in fact, so much more we can look forward to, so long as we are conscious of our choices and exercise our freedom!
Trusting Our Wisdom, but Being Willing to Learn
They used to say ages between the 40s and 50s were the most productive and highest earning years, but studies now show that can easily happen all the way into our late 70s. We may choose to work a lot longer than our parents, but now we have the freedom to tell the truth, share our wisdom, and not be afraid to try new things. And there is a huge need for someone to mentor young adults in emotional and business intelligence while letting them mentor us in technology and the digital revolution. Not resisting, being willing to learn, and trusting our own wisdom is a new, less stressful way to stay in the businesses and industries we love.
Making Healthy Choices
Of course, our choices may be constrained by our health. It’s incredibly important we pay attention to a healthy lifestyle. You already know what this means! Healthy foods; less sugar and carbs; more general movement and exercise; and fewer drugs, tobacco, and alcohol all make a difference. We don’t need to be militant about it, but the more we take care of our body the longer we will be free to participate in those things that make us happy!
Embracing the Freedom that Comes with Aging
Freedom also shows up in other ways. No longer tied down by the needs of our children, new choices are available. How much time do we want to spend with the grandkids? Are we free babysitters, or are we that special place the grandkids visit once or twice a year? We get to choose. And of course, being a grandparent allows for spoiling: Not having to make or enforce rules, we can simply enjoy, love, and share our wisdom with the grandkids — and then send them back home to their parents! What freedom!
Consciously Choosing What Makes Us Happy
Where do we want to live? What kind of a lifestyle do we choose? We begin to have the freedom to try new activities, maybe ones we abandoned when we became adults. Needing to get jobs and support families may have pushed that love for music, art, dance, or nature into the background. Now we can try again or try something new. And the freedom of not having to accomplish anything with it brings its own joy. When something isn’t part of our job or designed to get us a promotion or make more money, we can explore things that simply bring us joy. What freedom there is in that!
Of course, some of this is dictated by economics. But even that invites us to think about retiring outside of the U.S. or finding supplemental income doing something completely different than the stressful lives we may have been living.
Finding happiness later in life is fundamentally all about making new choices that allow us to exercise our freedom! What are you choosing today?