For most of our lives, we measure ourselves against other people. When we ask ourselves, “was I a good mom?” we are comparing ourselves to all of the other moms in the world.
A few thousand years ago, helping others wasn’t optional. From the moment we could walk, we played an essential role in helping our tribe to grow and thrive.
Like many women over 60, I have had my share of disappointments and other painful experiences. I’ve been robbed, had my heart broken, lost friends to cancer and experienced discrimination. I’m sure that almost everyone reading this could say the same.
By the time we reach our 60s, we have had the house to ourselves for a while. But, this doesn’t mean that we have recovered from being empty nesters.
While the emotional sting of watching our kids leave the house and start their own lives fades quickly, the process of reinventing ourselves and finding meaning in our lives is much slower.
Have you lost touch with nature?
If you are like most people over 60, who spend 90% of their time indoors, the answer is almost certainly “yes”. Is it any surprise that we feel anxious and worn out when our environments are so different than what our bodies and minds were designed for?
Our generation is often criticized – unfairly, in my opinion – for being overly self-centered and selfish.
The truth is that we baby boomers have spent our entire lives thinking about the needs of others. We raised families. We fought for women’s rights. We stood up against perceived injustices. In short, we cared about making the world a better place.
There is a powerful song by David Bowie, called “Under Pressure.” In the song, he sings about those days “when it never rains, but pours.”
What David captures so eloquently is the fact that stress has the potential to overwhelm our defenses and make us feel out of control. When our minds are consumed with worry and stress, positivity becomes a distant dream. Our negative thoughts feed on each other and grow stronger with every cycle.
Life after 60 is a time of transitions. Our kids have left the home. After decades climbing the corporate ladder, many of us are finding our careers grinding to a halt. Silver divorces are on the rise as many baby boomers re-evaluate their relationships.
Can helping others really make you happier?
Let’s explore this concept together. Like so many things in life, happiness is a matter of perspective. When you are feeling anxious, or even a little depressed, it’s easy to get caught up in your own emotions. The more you think about your situation, the darker your thoughts tend to get, until moving forward seems impossible.
“I’ve noticed the more reactive I feel, the more miserable I am. Social media is just jet fuel for reactivity.” – Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans)