Aging is what you make it — that, and what your genes have in store for you. But when the calendar rolls around to your 50th birthday, there are just some things that you need to let go off. Here’s our top 10 list of things best left behind in your 40s.
1) Hatred for your ex.
A study that ran awhile back in the Cognition and Emotion journal claimed that it was important to think less of the person you were formerly with in order to move on. Pish, we say to that, and would point out that the study was of 65 undergraduate college students who had recently broken up with someone they dated for more than four months. Not quite the same, now is it?
Hating people is just so energy-zapping. Why bother? It doesn’t undo any wrongs and it really doesn’t make you feel any better. Let it go. If you can’t forgive, can you at least emotionally move on and maybe one day forgiveness will come? Hating is bad for you; so is holding grudges. Start your 50s with a clean slate.
2) Gossip and speaking ill of others.
Frankly, these should have been left behind in high school. Snark really just doesn’t become us as far as civilization goes. Remember what Mom said about not saying anything if you don’t have something nice to say? She was right on that one.
3) Lack of gratitude.
Are you someone who focuses on who couldn’t come to your birthday party instead of which guests were there? Leave this attitude behind and look for ways to count your blessings, not what’s missing from them.
4) Dependent friends.
Everyone has a couple of these. They are the people who know we will help them out of jams, listen to their woes for hours and then make suggestions that they will likely ignore. They are helpless, sometimes hopeless. And they aren’t real friends either because friendship is a two-way street and dependent friends prefer to just take, not give. Do some weeding out here.
Traveling light through life keeps you focused on what is really important — friends, loved ones, family, and work you feel passionate about. The rest of it is just a distraction. Truth is, we don’t need so much stuff in our lives. I know someone who buys black shoes every time she sees a pair on sale. What she needs isn’t another pair of black shoes, but something to validate her life. So start with your closet, move to your attic and then look at your relationships. Discard the time sucks, the “just in cases,” and the “what ifs.” Seriously, we all need just one umbrella.
6) Mistaking complications for complexity.
Complex people are the most interesting ones to have in your life. Complicated ones, not so much. When things get complicated, it’s a way of remembering that life is too short. Complex people bring richness and open our eyes to new ways of seeing things — which is the best way to approach growing older.
7) The lust for more.
Greed got the best of us in the early 2000s, but we learned how to live with less in the recession. Now it’s just a matter of finding a healthy balance. Overall, happy people are those who are satisfied with what they have and don’t live in constant pursuit of more. We are all going to retire with less money. But the ones who will appear to have the best retirements are those who downsized their expectations along with their homes. Learn to be happy with what you have, that’s the trick.
8) That extra 20 pounds.
Sorry, but it had to be said. Good health is your passport as you travel down the aging highway and extra weight isn’t healthy. Plus it’s harder to lose as you get older because of metabolic slowdowns. There is no better time than now to dump it and dump it firmly.
9) Your need to say “yes”.
We all want to be pleasers and we always look for ways to do what others want us to do. Turning 50 can liberate that thinking. It is perfectly OK to say ‘no” to requests that impose on our time, our values, our means to support ourselves. As you enter the decade where you are most likely to take on responsibilities for your parents while you haven’t fully discharged your duties to your own kids, learning that you can say no is important.
10) Your preconceived notions about aging.
Boomers are rewriting the book on aging gracefully. The rules have been thrown away. No one can tell you when it’s time for you to retire, when it’s time for you to sell your house and downsize. No one can tell you you’re too old to travel to Africa, volunteer in India, go live in Panama for awhile.