A Letter to Cynical, Mean and Grumpy Baby Boomers Everywhere
Baby boomers have a fascinating history. Like the mythical phoenix, we rose from the ashes of destruction. After the war, couples connected, married and produced an army of babies that became a counterpoint to the loss and sadness that they experienced in previous years.
From the beginning, our generation was fearless, resilient and curious. We wanted to change the world – and we did!
Baby Boomers Were Renegades and Wild Children
We challenged the status quo, asked tough questions and weren’t afraid of difficult answers. In the 60s, we experienced war, violence, political assassinations, drugs, and rock and roll. In the 70s, we fought discrimination and supported women’s rights. In the 80s, we challenged work inequality and build out careers. In the 90s, we embraced technology. Now, in the 21st century, we are beginning the long process of redefining retirement.
Our Experiences Gave Us an Incredible Strength of Character
Our political, religious and philosophical opinions were diverse, but, we all stood up for what we believed in. Now, as we start to reach our 60s, it occurs to me that a split is forming, for the first time, in our generation’s collective unconscious.
Some of us are challenging aging stereotypes, staying positive, exploring our passions and staying optimistic. Others are becoming cynical, mean and just plain grumpy.
Why Did Some of Us Become So Cynical?
As the founder of Sixty and Me, a community of 150,000 women, I’ve seen these differences first-hand.
For example, every time I ask my Sixty and Me community members about dating after 60, I get polar opposite responses. About half of the women say that they know someone who found love after 60. The other half make comments like “Why would I want a man who is looking for a nurse and a purse?”
When I ask other baby boomers about travel, I get diverse and often emotional responses. Most boomers say that they love to travel, even if they can only afford to take a bus to a nearby city. They appreciate reading about new places, even if they can’t visit them personally. However, there is always a vocal minority of people that throws out bitter comments about travel being “only for rich people.”
You might think that this entire discussion comes down to money. In my experience, this isn’t the case. Of course, many of us are feeling a lot of financial pressure as we approach retirement. But, the way that we deal with this pressure varies.
So, my question for all of the grumpy baby boomers out there is this. What happened, guys?
How Can We Find Optimism and Positivity Again?
Our generation, for all of its flaws, has always faced each new challenge with optimism and drive. Why, as we approach retirement, are so many of us suddenly giving in to negativity and cynicism?
By the time we reach our 50s and 60s, we all have our share of emotional bruises and psychological cuts. We have been disappointed and hurt. Many of us have been divorced. But, as I wrote about recently, after watching this emotional video, pain is a natural part of life. The most positive people among us are able to bounce back and get the most from life, no matter what.
To the vast majority of baby boomers out there who are living with passion and verve, I say keep it up! Life after 50 should be the best time of your life. Let’s show the world that we are ready to stay productive, give back and make the world a better place in the best decades of our life.
For those boomers who are struggling to stay positive, remember that living well is a choice. We are living in the most exciting time in human history. Most of us have at least 30 years more on this planet. So, take control. Get in the best shape of your life. Reach out and make new friendships. Life really is too short to be cynical, grumpy or just plain mean.
With love and a smile,
Do you feel like you have become more or less positive as you have gotten a little older? Why? Please join the conversation.