You’ve all heard it before: Life gets better as you age. Really? Does it? Or is that just a fabrication of modern consumerism? Is that mantra just to get us to buy a quick fix and look ten years younger with a face lift, a pill or a personal trainer?
Maybe life doesn’t actually get better as you age, but you certainly get better as you age. It’s not that you slow down as you get into your 60s or even 70s — I’m more energetic and out there than ever before. And the invitation that came from AAPR over 17 years ago to join up with the seniors and get coupons did not give me a rush or change my life — except that I got a senior discount at the movies.
What gives me a daily rush is that I am more in tune with myself. I’m not just being another version of me; I’m doing my life through the lens of a deeper place inside of me. And from that deeper place comes an appreciation for time that is not defined, for change that is meaningful, for self-reflection that brings wisdom, understanding and grace.
Who calls the shots now? It’s definitely not ambition and success, ego or activity. That was when you were young and momentum meant everything to you. It was an anathema to stop and sit and watch and contemplate. What would you find out about yourself that you didn’t already know? Youth is not about self-reflection; it’s about changing the world and not about changing yourself. That was who you were as a younger version of yourself, and now, as you age, you carry with you the final version of another dynamic. It’s different for everyone but you know it when you discover a more profound sense of self and purpose. The chips land on the crap table of life in a different combination.
For those of you who have made significant changes in your lives as you’ve aged, you have an advantage. Change accompanies growth and a renewed sense of purpose. That’s all to your advantage when aging.
Finding purpose in your life is essential. For a while it might be your professional life, but everyone needs something that brings joy and personal fulfillment, something that brings together everything you know about yourself: your thoughts, ideas, values, dreams and emotions. This is your own personal goodie basket as it aligns with who you are now and not who you once were.
Finding meaning in life is the key to getting better with age. The following are 5 ways to increase wisdom, self-knowledge and personal growth:
1. Find your passion, your bliss or your greatest desires. For some it might be traveling to exotic places, nurturing your grandchildren, writing your memoir or volunteering. Whatever it is that gives you energy and fulfillment then that is what your great adventure will be as you age. Aging is about taking control of your life.
2. Ask yourself what is it that you haven’t done that you’ve always wanted to do. Review your life honestly. Journal the high points, bring to consciousness the unresolved conflicts and gain a new perspective about living so you can move forward with grace and dignity. And most of all, forgive. Without forgiveness there will be no forward movement and no hope.
3. Practice meditation with the intention of clearing the mind so that you might become more present and live more fully. Meditation enhances presence and awareness of your surroundings and brings you in touch with your inner feelings. Paying attention to every action you take is important because it increases productivity, emotional intelligence and happiness. Meditation quiets the mind and releases the unnecessary mental chatter going on in your head. It is then that you will be able to take pleasure in the smallest things in life.
4. Simplify your life. Acquire less, desire less. Be more aware that detaching from the material shifts your perspective to the importance of eliminating the unnecessary – that includes people, places and things that get in the way of clear intentions that keep you stuck in quicksand.
5. Be authentic. Pay attention to your inner feelings rather than responding to the external world with all its mixed messages and false values. Know that your life is about the freedom to be yourself, to grow without the pressures to stay relevant and look gorgeous. You are relevant and gorgeous by the definition of who you are as a person of value and distinction.
As you get older you do get better because the expression of yourself in all aspects of your life means that you have the freedom to make your own rules, discover your own rhythm and pace your life the way it suits you. Getting older means that you see yourself as the actual person you are, warts and all, always ready to be willing and wiser.