It’s not all bad getting older because there are many ways to be happy when you are over 50. For instance, I care less about what other people think and my wacky nature is being revealed a little bit more every day. I guess being a counsellor also helps me to realise how much we all keep hidden from others. Clients come to me with all sorts of problems, yet when I leave my office they put their brave face on and carry on as if nothing is wrong.
Being true to yourself
I don’t think my clients are unusual in this regard. Acting fine is something we are conditioned to do. Now that I have reached 50, I am no longer prepared to compromise my integrity and pretend to be someone that I am not. Thankfully, I quite like who I have the come most of the time. There are always ways to improve in general I have strived to live a life in line with my values.
You live according to your values
To be happy when you’re over 50 involves a sense of purpose that’s congruent with your values. My values include honesty, kindness, helping others, making the most of what I have, being adventurous, standing up for animals – their rights and protection, finding love and stability. Values are different to goals because they are a way of life rather than something you ‘arrive at’. Despite knowing my values, it hasn’t always been easy to stick to them. The reason for this is because emotions have a way of interrupting our aims.
Another reason that helps you feel happy when you’re over 50 is having a great perspective on life. Experience shows you that life has a way of throwing you curveballs. Despite your best-laid plans, things can go awry. I never expected to be 50 in the first place, because my life expectancy was reduced due to health issues.
Thankfully, in 2020, a miracle drug emerged and this has transformed my life. If I have cystic fibrosis and always thought that I would never make it past 50. My mother also had cystic fibrosis and passed away at the age of 50. I always measured my lifespan on hers.
So here I am, 50 with all these extra years that I did not expect to have do. I think I have always had a good perspective due to my health issues. I never took for granted that I would be able to retire and tried to make the most of every day. I know that sounds so cheesy but it helped me be more focused on enjoying life rather than delaying what I wanted to do. As you get older, you start living more and stop delaying.
Living in the moment
I believe that mindfulness is easier to practice when you are over 50. Life starts to slow down a little and you get enjoyment from the simpler things in life. Perhaps lockdown has had an impact, but I am far more aware of nature and take time to enjoy my surroundings more than I used to.
When I am mindful, my mind is cleared of all my worries. It’s a wonderful way to reset the brain. Research shows that when you are engaged with your five senses, your brain does not have the capacity to worry.
Quality of life is important
Time is precious and it becomes even more so as you get older. Toxic people waste valuable time and healthier boundaries exist when you realise this fact. Part of protecting your time involves being assertive and learning to say no. This also gets easier as time goes by.
It’s not what happens to you – it’s what you think about what’s happening to you.