On this fresh, cool, sun-dappled morning, I feel washed clean, full of clarity and determined to make some needed changes in my post-60 life.

A Spiritual Experience

This state of mind came to me through some tough work over the past 10 days. I am just emerging from a time of spiritual self-reflection as part of my religious observances, an emotionally powerful time when the core practice is to engage in harsh and unflinching self-evaluation.

The process is meant to make us uncomfortable, to blast open our hearts and minds, to be a stern wake-up call. And it can work wonders for those of us who have crossed the 60-year threshold.

A Time for Tough Self-Love

The point is to be pushed into making positive changes, dropping those old unhelpful (and sometimes harmful) habits. Changing habitual patterns can be excruciatingly difficult though. Often, a shock is required, an emergency, family crisis, hitting bottom in some way.

For some, a profound religious or spiritual experience can be that wake-up call. But maybe, even without a personal crisis or a spiritual epiphany, you can be your own urgent wake-up call and bring yourself into the piercing, shocking, icy cold awareness that life is short and the time for change is now.

Generally, our female wisdom encourages us to be gentle with ourselves, to celebrate our successes, forgive our mistakes and know in our bones we are good enough, at whatever age. And that is all true.

But maybe there is also a place in our lives for tough self-love, for reluctant admissions of faults and failures, for spiritual discipline.

A central theme of most spiritual practices is personal responsibility. Regardless of what is happening around us, or what anyone else is doing, if we’re not suffering a terrible mental or physical illness, we are responsible for our actions.

What Can You Do Differently?

Whether you have financial problems, health issues, conflict at home, loneliness, shaky relationship with your sister/mother/other blood relative or you hate your aged body – chances are, there is something you can do to improve the situation.

Sometimes even small personal changes can have a profound effect on your life circumstances.

Could you become a better, deeper, more patient listener? Do you need to soften your heart, or your tongue? Do you need to stop taking things personally, to have more compassion for those who hurt you?

Would it help if you could let go of your desire to be right or to win an argument? Can you learn the self-awareness to feel anger coming on and not act on it? Are you sometimes too tired, or preoccupied, to respond to a friend in need?

Maybe you need to practice the art of knowing when to speak and when to keep silent. Possibly your life could change if you could become more disciplined in your health habits. Perhaps you need to learn to allow others to help you.

Change of Attitude

Or maybe the change that is needed is a change of attitude. Viktor Frankl, psychologist and Holocaust survivor, said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Could you become more of an optimist in your 60s, seeking out the silver lining, continually reminding yourself to see the glass as half full? Is it possible for you to learn to live in the moment and drop ruminations about the past or the future?

Can you get better at trusting others to handle their own lives without your interference, maybe even trusting the flow of the universe?

Perfection is not required, not even possible. But we need to make efforts in the right direction.

So, along with gentle self-love, maybe there is also a time for wise and stern self-judgement. Life may be even shorter than you think. Make the most of it while you can.

What do you do to intentionally change habits that aren’t helpful to you or those around you? What kind of self-judgement do you go through to make yourself a better person? Do you think it’s possible to change your attitude to life in your 60s? Please share your advice and wisdom in the comments below.

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