Do you every feel like you are chasing happiness? How many times have you said, “When I get _______ I’ll finally be able to do ______?” Or, “If only _____ would happen, I could finally be happy!” This kind of thinking comes so naturally to us that we barely even notice it. Unfortunately, natural as it may be, this kind of thinking also prevents us from being happy in the present.
Many women are struggling to find happiness in life after 60. On the surface, you might think that our inability to be happy comes from our complex lives. After all, many of us have experienced divorces and deaths in the family. Some have lost parents and watched their children grow up and move away. Others have experienced health challenges of one kind of another. But, despite the fact that we share similar challenges, some of us are much happier than others. The question is, why?
On some level, I guess we all dislike change. In fact, for most of our lives, we have done everything in our power to find stability. Most of us looked for “safe” jobs. We tried to get our family to “safe” neighborhoods. Now that we are 60, we are told to put our investments in something “safe.” In all of these cases, the word safe also means predictable.
Life after 60 is a time for reflection and renewal. It can also be a time for recommitting ourselves to our core values and exploring life with a renewed sense of purpose. As I talk to the other members of the Sixty and Me community, I find that most women believe that the best years are still to come – if we make good decisions today.
On some level, we all know that the secret to longevity and happiness after 60 isn’t found in the latest pills and potions that the “anti-aging” industry pushes at us. The best tonic for longevity is to live well – to surround ourselves with good friends, new experiences, healthy food and worthwhile dreams. But, if you are feeling a bit apprehensive about life after 60, you may be looking for some more specific advice. After all, we all know what makes us happy, but, knowing how to make ourselves happy is another matter!
There is a well-established stereotype that the older we get the more risk averse we become. On one level, I can understand why this might be the case – when we are young, we have our whole lives to make up for our mistakes. As we get a little older, we simply have more to lose.
Over the course of our lives, we are taught many lessons. We learn that some people can’t be trusted. Most of us discover, the hard way, that life isn’t “fair.” We learn that most black and white issues are actually colored by rainbows of complexity. Unfortunately, many of us respond to these “lessons” by becoming more cautious and risk-averse.
By the time we reach our 60th birthday, it’s natural to have well-formed opinions about the world. Many of us have strong political and religious views. Others have well-formed opinions about the sports teams that we support, the causes that we contribute to and the communities in which we live.
Like many women my age, I spend hours in front of my computer every day. As the founder of Sixty and Me, it’s rare for me to type fewer than 2000 words before lunch. But, despite the fact that I am completely comfortable with technology, I still love my leather bound journal. There is something about putting pen to paper that takes me to another world and makes all of my fears and worries fade away, if only for a moment. Do you feel the same?
Do you every feel like life takes on a momentum of its own? I know I do! As we pass through the decades of our lives, one decision blends into the next. Finally, as we reach our 60s and we finally have time to evaluate our lives, it’s easy to wonder “how did I get here?”
When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, what do you see? Do your eyes dance quickly over your reflection, too quickly to settle on any one body part? Or, perhaps you pull in your stomach, hold back your hair and pause to evaluate yourself. Are you happy with what you see?