The Benefits of Growing Older

I don’t know about you, but personally, I get offended by all of the ads on television that make aging look like a fate worse than death.

Even more frustrating? With a few exceptions, the vast majority of those ads are directed solely at women — men who have gray hair are “distinguished” — women just look old, according to current marketing wisdom.

But, I’m here today to offer some encouraging news — there are a number of benefits that aging brings to our lives  — many of which are unattainable by those who are decades younger.

Recent studies have shown that the happiest decades of a person’s life are the 60s, 70s and 80s — that’s right — those are the same decades of life that negative ads about aging focus on.

There are several reasons why these years tend to be the most enjoyable — here are just a few:

  • The stress and responsibilities of child rearing are, for the most part, behind us. Those same studies that reveal people are most content during their 50s and 60s also show that people in their 40s have the highest rates of depression than any other decade. This is the age when child rearing consists of dealing with teenagers, and the stresses of college tuition and the empty nest loom heavily on the horizon.
  • The stress of trying to climb up the career ladder have wained a bit; many of the challenges and goals we set for ourselves have been met, and those we didn’t meet have largely been replaced by other, more fulfilling goals. Life has a way of changing just enough to require soul searching and the constant reassessment of our future goals.
  • There certain mindsets that can only be achieved by living life — surviving until middle age often brings about psychic changes that are more conducive to peace and contentment.

“This Too, Shall Pass”

One of those realizations that eventually come to us is that, indeed, the world doesn’t come to an end when we have conflicts with a coworker or have gone through a divorce. Just as the 4 seasons remind us, each of our lives have periods of lying fallow (winter) as well as periods of renewal and spiritual and developmental developmental growth.

The Ability to More Fully Live in the Moment

Perhaps because we’ve learned that a majority of the frustrations in life pass without much fanfare, we’ve also allowed ourselves to enjoy the present more fully. Instead of fretting over things we intuitively know will work themselves out, we are better able to let things go at the appropriate time, knowing that time ultimately takes care of many of life’s difficulties.

In fact, many times it’s best to not interfere with outcomes at all — especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution. As a friend of mine once wisely proclaimed, “If you feel as if you must deal with a situation right this very minute or your whole world will collapse, it’s probably better that you don’t.” Many times the wisest choice we can make is to let our emotions settle until we can see issues more realistically.

“Whatever Doesn’t Kill You. . .”

Ultimately, the saying that we have “earned” our wrinkles is actually quite true — after living several decades of life, it seems that the knowledge, understanding and insights we’ve garnered along the way can make our golden years some of the most enjoyable yet.

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