5 Tips for Happiness for Those Over 50
July 16, 2017
Hitting my 50th birthday was quite a milestone. On one hand I was like, “Woo Hoo! It’s my birthday!” And then on the other hand, I was like, “It’s my birthday, of joy!”
And it absolutely drove me crazy when cynical friends and co-workers replied, “Beats the alternative.” Of course it beats the alternative, still, being five decades old is old. Dirt. At least, that’s what I thought.
A couple of years have passed – OK, seven to be exact – and I realize now that my 50s are really a gift. I’m old enough to be be past the things that drove me crazy in my younger years – rebellious toddlers and teens for example – and young enough to enjoy almost anything. Almost anything. There’s this thing called arthritis, but that’s another blog.
Here are five tips that prove if you are in your 50s, you have plenty of happiness before you:
Tip 1: Happiness is a choice. Happiness doesn’t just happen, it’s truly a choice. Think about it for a minute. You’re driving to work and smiling about the upcoming weekend and your plans. Out of nowhere, some guy cuts you off. You can choose to have a fit and flip him off or you can continue to think of the weekend. Sure, I’d be inclined to do the former, too, but what would I achieve other than mood-changing road rage. I’d rather be happy than pointlessly angry.
Sometimes it’s not an easy choice. Things constantly happen in our lives that can throw us off track. Make it a habit to make lemonade out of these things. In the end, a simple choice of response will make you a happier person.
Tip 2: Stop living in the past. We’ve all had bad things happen in our lives. We’ve all made poor choices. We’ve lost people we love. A wise faith leader shared the perfect advice: don’t be defined by the past. Look ahead instead. I have lost jobs, lost a teenage son, lost a sibling, and some would say, lost my mind. Sure, it was painful, but I kept moving forward. Prayer helped. Tears helped, too. But realizing the future holds new sources of happiness kept me going. It will keep you going, too.
Tip 3: Stop trying to control everything. In my 30s, I tried to control everything. Work. Kids. Even those lines in the carpet after vacuuming. I was driving my self crazy trying to control everything. Finally, in my 50s, I learned that I couldn’t control everything and, in fact, a little unexpected chaos is OK. Thankfully, all of my years as a control freak has made me a pretty good problem solver. So now even while I am no longer try to control every aspect of life, when something out of the ordinary happens, I’m the first to say “bring it on” – and smile about it.
Tip 4: Don’t doubt yourself. As our age climbs, so does our wisdom and our experiences. While our younger selves would naturally second guess decisions or be paralyzed by fear in the face of a tough choice, our older selves are armed with a ton of knowledge and past experiences. If you’re in the habit of doubting yourself, stop. Instead, rely on your wisdom to guide you.
Tip 5: Live Life Large! My younger self would skip dessert, thinking about the calories. I’d work late instead of spending time with friends. I’d buy sensible shoes or clothes I could “wear forever.” (Ugh!) I’d choose stay-cations over vacations because I’d never traveled much and was afraid to going beyond the familiar. Now, however, I’ve discovered it’s so much more fun to live life large! Splurge on dessert; you can make up for it later at the gym. Work can wait. Friends and loved ones can’t. Wear the cute clothes. Sensible clothes are for old folks. And who’s old these days? Finally, get out of your comfort zone and take a trip. You’ll have so much fun getting out of your comfort zone.
Here’s one last “freebie” tip: Make sure you love your job. Retirement is still a few years away so why not spend those years doing something you love. If you’re a nurse, consider working as a contract or travel nurse. Your experience is in demand and you’ll have the freedom to choose the assignments you want. You will continue to earn a great living, but you’ll also discover that being your own boss creates a new future of happiness. As someone who’s been her own boss for 23 years, this is an absolute truth!
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