Monday, April 21, 2008

Finding Your 2nd Wind At Age 45 (Or 55)

We need to start thinking about aging before we grow older. Whether we’re 40 years old, 50, or (gasp!) even older, we’re soon going to lose a step in our race for the prize, forget where we left our glasses, even wonder who that person is looking back at us in our mirror.

A recent international study revealed that men and women in their 40s were more likely to be depressed; middle-aged people aren’t as happy as either younger people or much older people. During this middle-age time of life, we begin to begin to understand that we aren’t going to achieve our wonderful youthful often-unrealistic dreams of success and fulfillment. We realize that we’re never going to be as beautiful, thin, strong, rich and famous as we had hoped.

So this is the time, our middle years, for us to get our dream-like expectations into line with what we can actually achieve. There is still hope, there is still promise. We can still become more actualized. We can now enjoy a fulfilling, enriching second half of life.

How do we rise out of our depression and broken dreams? First we celebrate our past achievements and set goals for our second half of life, goals which are more realistic and do-able. This is the time for honest self-appraisal, a habit-breaking opportunity for a deep and refreshing “second wind” that will carry us into a more successful future. We can do it. We can be happy. Statistics show that most depressed middle-agers bounce back and become happier and more satisfied with life as they reach their 50s, 60s, and 70s.

How do we do it? First, stop being afraid of growing old or of being old; aging brings wisdom. We learn from our mistakes, because a mistake can be an opportunity in disguise. We can become lucky, because luck is often just knowing, through experience, when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Life takes on new meaning. We learn to smile more, and people will smile back at us more often. We learn about life by living it more deeply and fully, savoring the hidden flavors which we were in too much of a hurry to notice when we were young.

There is research suggesting that cheerful people actually live longer lives. Possibly, they want to live longer because they have finally gained the wisdom to see that they don’t have to be rich to enjoy the simple richness of every day, don’t have to be beautiful to enjoy the beauty around them. There are hundreds of recent studies which prove that through positive mental and social stimulation,and regular exercise and proper diet, we can remain healthy and happy well into our 80s and 90s.

We must step into this new view of aging, and step out of that middle-age sense of “poor me” or “what-might-have-been.” We must begin a new enlightened age and realize that a better and happier life is just waiting to happen, starting at this very moment, as we turn the corner at age 40, or 50, or 60.

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