A few days ago, I received an invitation to join AARP, as if I needed a reminder about the impending confrontation with my 50th birthday.
Everyone keeps asking: how do you want to celebrate? It’s a big one — you need to do something special.
I get it. Fifty-years old. A milestone. The prime of middle-age. Still, I don’t want to make a big deal of it. A nice dinner with the family will suffice. The glitz and glamor of parties never appealed to me, not even in my youth.
That’s one of the greatest pleasures of turning fifty. You get to say, “I don’t give a sh*t” about all the crap you once lost slept over: popularity, fitting in with people you despise, flashy celebrations.
But not everyone reaches their sixth decade with peace of mind. It’s a time where many of my peers turn grumpy, recognizing their mortality, regretting their mistakes, and funneling all their frustrations into grievances. They become old-people caricatures reviled by the young and ridiculed by well-adjusted peers.
As young adults, we look at people like that and think, I’ll never become one of them. Yet, somehow, so many folks become who they once despised.
Focusing on your health and exploring your curiosities keeps your mind and body youthful, but it’s not enough. Without the proper mental frameworks during your prime years, each failure or disappointment in life adds another brick to your wall of cynicism and resentment.
So far, I’ve avoided that dark path and can honestly claim I’m happier now than at any point in my life. These three practices have proven most beneficial in helping me overcome the challenges of aging gracefully.
Focus on self-acceptance.
Well-adjusted 50-year-olds no longer fret over fitting in with the crowd. They accept their unique qualities and allow the world to either accept or reject them.
Grumpy 50-year-olds no longer try to fit in either. Instead, they demand everyone else tries to fit into their vision of how the world should work. Psychologists Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross explain the phenomenon in their book, The Wisest…