Getting older is often seen as negative, particularly in the western world. But as elders, the wisdom we gain as we go through life ought to be shared. So I’m going to share some of my wisdom.
My grandmother used to say to me that it was no use getting older if you couldn’t get wiser. Actually that’s a lie, she used to say ‘craftier’ or ‘away with murder’ but you get the drift. There are benefits to reaching a certain age.
I’m 60 years old, although inside I still feel about 25, but I think that’s normal. However, along the way I’ve picked up some wisdom that I DEFINITELY didn’t have in my twenties! I wonder how many of you will be nodding your heads through this list…
Now I’m 60 I know…
1. You don’t have to age ‘gracefully’
Time is going to pass and you are – hopefully – going to age. So firstly let’s start with what a privilege that is. Getting older means you’re still here, and for that you should be truly thankful. This life is a gift and we all know so many who have already passed. So if you’re whining about getting older, stop it. However, don’t find yourself looking at Instagram at the gorgeous older accounts and thinking badly about yourself. There’s pressure on you at EVERY age to look a certain way, behave a certain way – and it seems especially around your very early adulthood and then later on again as you ‘age’.
Don’t let that bug you. You don’t have to waft about looking like an angel, or work out so that your six pack is the envy of everyone in their thirties. If you want to stump about in wellies making jam, or spend your life in slippers, or have a massive midlife crisis, do it. You’ve earned it.
This life is a gift and we all know so many who have already passed. So if you’re whining about getting older, stop it
2. Plans change. Stop trying to control every tiny thing
I’ve learned that being a control freak has realistically brought me nothing but aggravation. I can’t control people, activities, things, decisions… and when I try and do that, everything is much harder; things don’t flow. Learning to ‘go with the flow’ and not be a sticky beak, or try to organise everyone else’s stuff because ‘I’m better at it than they are’ (the arrogance! I make myself laugh now) has made life so, so much easier. I can heartily recommend it. And going with the flow has, I’ve found, often brought pleasant surprises or changes that I would never have experienced if I was still trying to control everything.
3. Nothing lasts forever – good or bad
This is a good one to remember for two reasons. Firstly, because when you’re having a rough time, it can often feel like it’s never going to end, and isn’t life hideous and why do I bother etc. But definitely, inexorably, things will change. I can’t even tell you they’ll get better – they might get worse! But my experience has shown me otherwise. Often it’s been a case of hanging in there, and eventually, you realise it’s not as bad any more, whatever it is.
Conversely, the same can be said for when life is amazing. Not to worry about it when it’s happening and be a worry-wort – absolutely not, enjoy every moment. But enjoy it all that more knowing that it’s not forever, and milk every last drop out of that amazing thing.
4. Traveling with your children and grandchildren is important
Dragging your kids to Malaga every summer has its benefits, definitely. Time together, to do things as a family away from work stress can never be underestimated. But if you’re able to, take it one step further and explore the world with your kids, and grandkids, all at the same time, or separately. Not only will it broaden your horizons and theirs, but give you memories and bonding experiences to last a lifetime. And half the fun is planning the trip together. Make sure it’s something that everyone wants to do though, or you’re storing up some fat resentments for later on. It’s not all about you. Or them.
5. That my best days are ahead of me, always
Now I’m 60 it would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that my best days are behind me, but I work on sidestepping that. The experiences I had in my twenties and thirties were wild, my forties and fifties rich with experience and family. But as I hit a new decade there are new things to look forward to and it’s vital to keep thinking like that. Have you got a bucket list? Maybe you should have. I have, and it’s one of those things that keeps me looking forward. If you want to spend the rest of your days relaxing in the sun or watching TV and drinking too much sherry, that’s also your prerogative of course. Just make sure it’s because that’s what you actually want to do?
As I hit a new decade there are new things to look forward to and it’s vital to keep thinking like that
6. That it’s worth taking care of the body I have
Anyone reading this who is under 30 (it’s possible!) take note. The earlier you look after yourself, the better your later years will be. At 30 I didn’t even give a second thought to how I might feel at 60, but I can tell you that without the wild years of excessive drinking, or the years of smoking, I expect I’d feel fitter and healthier. I work hard now at my health and wellbeing, physical and mental, and do yoga, and eat clean, and quit smoking, and I feel a ton better. Just wish I’d done it a while ago. I still know how to have fun and my daughter taught me about the 80/20 rule, where you get 20% of the time to be the devil, as long as you’re an angel for the other 80%! It’s worth keeping it in mind, so you can still have fun!!
7. When you think you’re having a bad day, there are millions of people having a much worse time
Back to another family saying here – when I was a whiney child my mother used to say to me, “I cry because I have no shoes, I see a man who has no feet.” I guess the fact I still remember that means it stuck, and it’s given me a sense of balance when I’ve wanted to stamp my foot and shout about how unfair life is. It’s made me stop, look at what I have, and as the youngsters say, ‘check my entitlement’. Trust me, it’s good for keeping things in perspective. I could be SO much worse off.
8. How important it is to feed your soul – whether you like reading, music, cooking, dancing… Do that stuff
As I grew older into my forties and got really busy with work, I found I gave less and less time to myself for recreation. Truth be told I was too exhausted most of the time, as a mum and business owner. At the end of the day the last thing I felt like doing was putting on a record and having a dance around, or reading a book. Cooking was a chore that needed doing every day as a parent, so that just felt like another job at the end of the day, and I pretty much worked, parented and slept. I don’t regret that because that’s what I needed to do at the time, but I have a different life now, and the joy of rediscovering music and literature and film has been overwhelmingly wonderful. Could I have brought more of that to my life earlier on? Maybe, but life isn’t for looking back really.
9. Know when to quit
This is an important one because it’s hard to know the right time sometimes. But I know I’ve stayed too long in relationships, in jobs, in friendships, working at projects and so on, long after it’s a dead horse. As I’ve aged I’ve learned to short-cut through that kind of thing now. I can spot people who are going to waste my time or suck my energy. I can see when a project just isn’t going to work. I can feel it in my gut when a ‘friend’ doesn’t feel like a friend any more. And life is not for wasting on that. This is not to say however that if you don’t like something you should just quit without trying. No indeed! But being able to spot the point where you just know is definitely something that comes with age and I’m grateful for that insight.