There is salad dressing in my refrigerator that dates back to the Bush administration. And there’s a plastic container in the back that’s growing a chemistry experiment but I’m afraid to look, so I just leave it there.

I know when the milk turns sour it’s time to throw it out, but I’m not sure about the eggs. How can I trust a cardboard container that tells me something fresh will last another month?

Expiration Dates are for Pancake Mix

I recently rummaged through the kitchen cabinets and pantry searching for cans, boxes, and packages of food that have exceeded their “use by” date.

 
 

It’s easy to toss out the old tin of unwanted sardines, but I have a difficult time parting with the gourmet pancake mix. The expiration date is 2012, but it’s a gourmet mix from a famous gourmet company that sends awesome catalogs. I’ll probably keep that mix for another five years, just in case some fancy guests drop by for breakfast.

Expiration dates alarm me because I’m worried someone will slap one on my head. “Elaine is best before 2018.” That would be too much pressure to cram all my quality goodness and usefulness into the next 14 months. I would plead for an extension and then tap dance my way back into being relevant and valuable.

How to Keep from Expiring

Would you want to know your expiration date? I don’t. Instead, I think we should choose to live every day to the fullest just to prove we’ve still got life and mischief.

Each morning, slowly peek out of one eye to make sure you’re still alive. If you haven’t expired, you have another chance to go forth with fresh and worthy confidence that says your story isn’t over. It’s time to start another chapter.

Here are some ideas for staying fresh and unspoiled:

Avoid Frowning

Frowning makes you appear older than you are. Just like fruits and vegetables begin to wither after exceeding their shelf life, try scowling into a mirror and notice the unattractive reflected image. Now smile, showing off those well-earned laugh lines. Isn’t that better? You might want to do this in the privacy of your room.

Stay Front and Center

The forgotten leftovers mysteriously migrate to the back of the refrigerator where they languish until worthless and discarded. Don’t become an irrelevant leftover.

Protect Your Packaging

Sometimes those plastic food storage containers lose their seal and the food spoils. Remember to use lotion and sun screen to protect your skin. Wear a hat, avoid too much sun, and indulge in an occasional body wrap treatment or luxurious bath.

Laugh to Take the Years Off

Add some pickling spice as a preservative. Laughter is the best medicine. If you haven’t enjoyed a belly laugh for a few days, turn off the news, read a humorous book, watch a funny movie, or play with a grandchild.

Appreciate the Variety of Choices around You

Some days, society will see you as the favorite main course, and other times you’ll be a side dish when everyone is clamouring for the baked turkey. Be the best green bean casserole you can be. The turkey is really under a lot of pressure to be perfect and appealing every time.

After six decades of life, we know the expiration date gets closer every day. But, we can do our best to stay active, eat healthy, enjoy positive relationships, and use our resources to improve our communities. We’re not done yet.

What are your favorite ways to stay fresh and unfrowning? What habits keep you “front and center” rather than languishing in the back? Are there tips you have for maintaining a healthy sense of humor? Please share in the comments. 

Elaine AmbroseElaine Ambrose is a #1 best-selling author of 10 books, including Midlife Happy Hour and Midlife Cabernet. She is the author of one of the most-read posts in the history of The Huffington Post, which was subsequently translated into six languages and published around the world. Ambrose, who lives in Eagle, Idaho, is the recipient of numerous awards, including awards from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) and ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards. Please visit her website at ElaineAmbrose.com.

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