When you were younger, what did you think your current age would be like?
I’m not sure I thought about it at all, but I don’t think I thought I would be this … I don’t know, vibrant.
A lot of things annoy me right now (gestures broadly at everything). And yet, I’ve got more joie de vivre at age 53 than I did in my 20s.
Maybe that’s because I was a basket case in my 20s. But it’s more than that. Despite the many myths about getting older, this is pretty damn good.
As for those myths, maybe it’s time to bust them once and for all. Here are some straight facts about popular midlife myths:
1. The “Crisis”
There’s no doubt that your 40s can be tough, with peak dissatisfaction arriving at 47.2 (weirdly specific). But it’s more likely to be a vague transitional unhappiness rather than a full-blown crisis. Still though, better to stay away from Corvette dealerships until you’re safely 50.
2. Sex is Over
Loss of desire can be an issue as we get older due to physical changes, especially if your long-term relationship is lacking in sexual novelty. On the other hand, roughly 38 percent of 40-year-olds and 19% of 50-64 year-olds use dating apps. And all the single people I know that are my age are telling tales of activities that almost make me blush. Get creative!
3. Your Work Life has Peaked
You may be at the peak of your powers, but that just means it’s time to put them to newer uses. Midlifers are ditching stale careers for side hustles and hobbies that become full-time businesses. People aged 40-65 are putting their experience and networks to work in entrepreneurial ventures.
4. Death is at the Door
Once you get through the initial doldrums, midlife really does become your best life. You’re driven by meaning and purpose rather than social status or material acquisition, and you’re confident enough to want to give back while continuing to challenge yourself. And if you take care of yourself, you’ve likely got a long road ahead of you to thrive.
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
If one of those busted myths above aroused your attention, let’s go deeper (ahem). Yes, you can have the best sex of your life after 40, 50, and beyond.
6 Ways To Have Better Sex In Your 40s, 50s & Beyond
School House Rocks
It’s quite possible your true career is just beginning. And despite your superior experience, you still need to augment and update your skills constantly. What if you viewed that as a privilege instead of a burden?
Make Learning a Lifelong Habit
Research shows restricting carbohydrates can help balance blood sugar, control insulin levels, and increase weight loss. Carb cycling provides the best of a low carbohydrate lifestyle with the perk of periodically indulging in the yummy stuff.
Is a Carb Cycling Diet Good for You? Here’s How to Start
Over the course of the past two decades, the rise of the infopreneur has been exponential. In short, an infopreneur is an entrepreneur who specializes in the sale and distribution of information and expertise.
What Is an Infopreneur: How to Ace the Modern Day Side Hustle
Down below, Trudi explores why self acceptance is the first necessary step to true personal growth. And we’re going to keep on rockin’ in the free world in the Flashback.
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Self-Acceptance is Self-Improvement
By Trudi Roth
Recently I had a midlife “don’t try this at home” moment when I had professional, high-def photos taken for my website.
Every wrinkle, line, and sag on my face appeared in sharp relief. I joked about needing multiple Photoshop injections, but inside I was haunted by an essay by humorist Heather Havriesky entitled, Are You Aging Correctly?
The answer is yes, and no. In my mind’s eye, I am eternally young, enlivened by joie de vivre. In the mirror, I am me, scrambling even in a pandemic to dye my hair the right color and working out like crazy to avoid the Quarantine 15.
While Havriesky’s essay is aimed at women, the core concept — that people of a certain age are supposed to have “matured beyond vanity” — is universal.
That sentiment is more than skin deep. It cuts to the eternal question: With all you have and all you’ve done, when will it feel like it’s enough? Like you’re enough?
Self-Improvement vs. Self-Acceptance
Here at Further, we talk a lot about what it takes to live your best life at midlife. Finding meaning and purpose top the list.
These things aren’t simple to define or quantify. Even self-optimization guru Tim Ferriss has found accomplishments alone don’t equate to what we desire most, including contentment and a sense of worthiness. As he points out,
…not everything that is meaningful can be measured easily.
Self-improvement, while a valid way to pursue happiness, has a built-in limitation. The very definition involves bettering yourself, which makes self-acceptance conditional. High standards, up to and including perfectionism, can fast-track low self-esteem.
On the other hand, self-acceptance allows you to move beyond your ego, drop judgments and comparisons, and equally embrace your strengths and weaknesses. This expands the possibility of finding peace.
Come As You Are
This isn’t to say that personal growth and being comfortable with yourself are mutually exclusive; in fact, the two work together. Radical self-acceptance, a concept put forth by psychotherapist and meditation teacher Tara Brach and embraced by Ferriss, is a great way to diffuse the pressure of making changes and taking risks.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t compete in a healthy way, put wholehearted commitment into work, or acknowledge and take pleasure in our own competence. But when our efforts are driven by the fear that we are flawed, we deepen the trance of unworthiness.
Back to the question of aging correctly, or really, doing anything right. Who’s to say what’s best for you? Stepping into your power means letting the critics inside your head and IRL prattle on and still hold onto that joie de vivre.
Because self-acceptance is the ultimate self-improvement. And we’re old enough to know that by now.
Tim Ferriss’s Recent Change of Heart Shows How Self-Improvement Can Fail You (Medium)
Pearl Jam and Jack White – Rockin’ in the Free World
NOS Alive Festival, 2018
When U2 covered Helter Skelter, Bono famously said, “This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealing it back.” Similarly, in 2016 Donald Trump stole the 1989 anthem Rockin’ in the Free World from Neil Young. We’re stealing it back. (YouTube)
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