As someone who never shies away from my age, you have heard plenty from me about all things over 40. I have shared before that even when I was in my twenties 40 sounded glamorous and complete, but that was it for me. I never really thought about what my life would be like after 40. I am not sure if that was just based on having my own 20 year old vision goggles that didn’t fully see the full picture or if it was more about how society didn’t really show us images over that age in a positive joy filled way.
One of the reasons I have embraced the idea of joy over 40 is because I wanted to not only create a space that spoke to that regardless of what the mainstream media decided was on trend, but I wanted young people to know it existed too. I wanted my daughters to know that they could look forward to all of the stages of their lives including midlife.
But what exactly is midlife? Sometimes I feel like even within the midlife community we are splitting hairs. I’ve heard “you’re too young to be considered midlife…” As I round out my 46th year and head to 47, I am wondering what age they expect me to live to? While I am an optimist the reality is that I am clearly in the middle part of my life. Probably a little over it to be honest, but if we consider the definition from Psychology Today Midlife is the central period of a person’s life, spanning from approximately age 40 to age 65. But the second part of the definition from psychology today is what I really take issue with.
According to Psychology Today midlife can be a stressful time, as many people come to feel discontented and restless as they struggle with aging, mortality, and holding onto a sense of purpose. Now I won’t pretend that no one who is in midlife ever struggles with these issues, they do. I do… but I also see it as a wonderful time where there is so much freedom to choose and you feel so much more confident in your choices and more importantly in who you are. I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than I do now. And my life is filled with much more joy! When I hear from women that I admire on this issue who are in their 50’s and 60’s , I hear that it gets better and better! So, why isn’t that message the one we are sharing?
If you are entering, already in, or just curious about what midlife will hold for you here are a few ways to embrace it with joy.
Be intentional– If you’ve spent your twenties figuring things out and your thirties doing what’s expected, midlife is a time to really get clear about what you want the second half of your life to be like. It’s the time to really set intentions for your life and make sure that your choices align. It’s the time to start saying no to things that you don’t really enjoy but have been doing to please everyone else and to start saying yes to things you have always wanted to do… for you! While being intentional sounds calculated it’s actually so freeing. It helps make room for you to create a more joy filled life. Moving with intention can bring us joy.
Keep evolving– you will often hear this theme in my posts. I am a strong believer in the idea that we just keep growing. In my mind the idea of discontent and a lack of purpose comes from getting too comfortable. Things get boring when we allow them to. The more you learn and evolve and grow the more you find new things that bring you joy and lean more fully into who you are and who you want to be. That shouldn’t stop when we hit midlife. There is no midlife crisis when you’re constantly evolving. The crisis part comes in when we have remained stagnant for so long and then suddenly turn our lives upside down trying to get back those exciting and feel good endorphins again. If you are always moving (no matter how slowly) there will be no need to suddenly start again. The act of exploration can bring us joy.
Remember that a healthy life is a happy life- Taking care of yourself is the key to embracing midlife. No one is immune to the possibility of sudden illness or disease. I like many of you have seen this up close and personal, but there certainly are things that we can do to make sure that we feel as good as we can for as long as we can.
Not taking our health for granted and making sure that you have a fitness and healthy diet routine is imperative as we age. If engaging in fitness activities and making healthy eating choices hasn’t been a part of your routine it isn’t too late to start! My husband is in his 50’s and has just started exploring a plant based diet. I’m running my fastest miles in my late 40’s (to be honest, I was never much of a runner so it’s still pretty slow, but it’s faster than my 20’s). I also have a 94 year old uncle who ran a race at 90 and won the gold medal for his age group. And who knows… maybe he was the only one in his age group. But he was there. And his face was filled with so much joy when telling us about that win.
My point here is that there is joy in taking care of our bodies and seeing it perform in ways that we never expected. But if being a budding midlife athlete or going completely plant based isn’t for you, simply stretching, walking and eating well will keep you feeling good too. I think we can all agree that truly feeling good on the inside brings us joy!
So, those are my tips for embracing midlife with joy. I would love to hear what your thoughts are about midlife in general and embracing joy as we age.
Until Next Post,
xo Tonya Parker