Life is full of obligations. There are lots of things that we have to do for others that are burdensome, unpleasant or just not fun. That is life. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Will I serve with a bitter heart or a joyful heart? To give you an example, my daughter […]
“Growing old isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” – Maurice Chevalier
Aging is a complicated process for human beings. On the one hand, of course we want to grow old, rather than die early. But on the other hand, we find aging to be uncomfortable.
That is why some people struggle on those birthdays that end with a zero – 40, 50, 60. When those birthdays come along, some people deal with their fear of growing old by getting fancy cars or motorcycles. Or, they may take adventurous trips. Some folks leave their current spouses to find new, younger ones. They go through a great deal of effort to feel like they are still young when the reality is that their youth is irretrievably gone.
While I’ve never had that kind of reaction to a “zero” birthday, I am sympathetic. Aging is disconcerting. For instance, no matter how well you treat your body, once you hit 45, your body changes. Your metabolism slows down, and you can’t eat as much as you used to without putting on weight. We get gray hairs that we either dye or accept with grace.
With age comes additional medical tests, from mammograms to colonoscopies. And, as I recently found out, any little lump they find can be potentially cancerous. My goodness. As we age, we truly are no longer invincible.
But with age also comes many benefits that we don’t have when we are young. As we get older, we gain a level of wisdom and clarity that we simply don’t have when we are young. And with that comes a contentment that we don’t possess in our frenetic, insecure younger years.
Consider the following ways in which aging is truly a blessing. And embrace your age, no matter what number it is!
With Age Comes Clarity of Purpose: When we are young, our priorities are all over the map. We want adventure! We want fascinating careers!! We want romance!!! And all those things are fun to pursue – for a time. But after a while, we realize that they are hollow goals.
With each passing year, what is most important to us in life becomes clearer. As a result, as we near the end of our lives, we typically know our purpose. We should know what we want to have done with this unique life of ours.
Most importantly, we know what we need in order to die in peace. So, by a certain age, we are able to fill in the blank for this simple statement: I can die happy when __________.
I can easily fill in that statement. I can die happy once my daughter has a rewarding career and a kind, gentle husband who takes good care of her. Then, I can die in peace!
Of course, I have professional aspirations and a bucket list of things I’d like to do before I die. However, as I age, some of those things have become less important to me. For instance, my husband and I like to travel. But if we never got on a plane again, I wouldn’t fret about it. I’ve seen enough of the world! It is more important to me that he is healthy and content.
With Age Comes Humility: If you have lived any amount of time on this earth, you have made mistakes. And you probably have made some doozies! We are all human, and none of us goes through life without making some mistakes and having some regrets.
As a result, by the time you get to be of a certain age, it is hard to judge others. For instance, if you have been married for a decent amount of time, you likely aren’t judgmental of people who get divorced. That is because you’ve been through the ups and downs of marriage. You know how fragile that relationship can be.
Similarly, I never judge other parents. Anyone who has parented children knows that raising kids is hard. My own journey as a parent certainly has not been perfect. For example, there have been times when I thought to myself, “I should let my daughter her fight her own battles.” Now I look back and think, “Maybe I should have stepped in more.” There are no perfect answers in parenting!
Of course, this hard-earned humility doesn’t mean that we can’t identify the mistakes or poor judgment of others. Rather, humility keeps us from being judgmental. It helps us realize that we are all so very human. As a result, we all, from time to time, can make mistakes and do things that we regret.
With Age Comes Wisdom: There are many things that we learn only from age and life experience. One is that trying to please others is not worthwhile. When we are young, we typically are insecure, so we try to please people. We want good feedback. That boosts our self-esteem. But as we get older, we learn that trying to please people is a massive waste of time.
That is because no matter what you do, you can never please everyone in your life. Someone will always be dissatisfied with you. Worse yet, there are certain people who are built to be unhappy. No matter how much you do for them, no matter how kind you are to them, they will complain. Trying to please them is pointless.
The blessing is that with age, we learn that people pleasing is a waste of time. When we come to that realization, only then can we start living an authentic life. And once we do that, we will live the life that God intended for us.
With age, we also learn that we are not obliged to spend time with anyone. The older I get, the pickier I am about who I spend my time with. For the most part, I don’t associate with people out of obligation. If I spend time with someone, it is because I like that person and think highly of him or her. Moreover, I get irritated if I have to spend any time dealing with rude, aggressive or unkind people. Those are precious minutes that I cannot get back!
Getting older is a blessing. And it isn’t just because we aren’t dead. It is a blessing because with each passing year we become a little bit wiser. And hopefully, along the way, we become a little bit more content and happier.
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