Right around 40, most of us start to feel old -- and it happens gradually. You start to notice that you're a little bit out of step with things -- you hear music you don't recognize or understand, you see young actors and actresses on the cover of magazines in the supermarket checkout line and have no idea who they are. Your back sometimes feels a little, tiny bit achy, and some days, no matter how many drops you drip in them, your eyes are still bloodshot.
The good news? It's not all bad. While some things may not be quite as much fun, others become far more enjoyable. It's all how you look at things.
You feel good in your skin. Unless you are someone who lifts, tucks, Botoxes and cardios your body into submission, chances are you will begin to see signs of aging. You won't like it much at first, but if you're smart you'll learn to work with what you have, and you'll look good because you're confident and because you make an effort. And if you want a lift or Botox shot, go for it. Whatever makes you happy.
It's ok to wear comfortable shoes. Not the ugly ones -- no one wants to do that. But gradually you will realize that choosing a 5-inch heel over a 3-inch heel can be the difference between a comfortable pair of shoes and elements of torture. You don't need that anymore.
Your nest empties. While you're in the middle of raising your kids it's impossible to believe that this will ever happen, or imagine that you'll like it, but it will and you will. The joy of raising children is a lot about watching them grow -- the goal being to see them become wonderful adults. The empty nest means that they are off on their own, and you can enjoy being the parent of grown people who have lives of their own.
You can enjoy your marriage or relationship. As you move into middle age, if you are married or in a relationship, you can enjoy each other in a more relaxed and comfortable way. If you have kids, they may be older and more independent, giving you more time to spend as a couple. This is a great time to reinforce the good things about your relationship or to address the difficult ones.
You are more tolerant. Youth and young adulthood are filled with events that create drama and tension. The idealism of your 20s and the intensity of your 30s give way to a more relaxed and accepting view of the world in your 40s and into your 50s. Very few things in your life are important enough to warrant rage or despair. What would have made you nuts when you were younger will now seem unimportant.
You are more certain of what matters. Whether or not you've had a big crisis or a life-changing event, chances are you know someone who has. The more you see others faced with difficulties (or face them yourself), the more you understand what you believe is worth fighting for. This focus makes it easier to navigate the world.
Keep an open mind about aging. It may not always feel great or look good, but if you consider the alternative, it's a good idea to enjoy each day -- aching backs, bloodshot eyes and all.
Previously published on Empty House Full Mind
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