I believe that how you look is in direct correlation with how you feel. No amount of anti-aging creams, botox or tummy tucks are going to counteract a bitter attitude. And no matter how much plastic surgery you get, if you aren't feeling good about yourself, you'll become one of those angry old ladies who scares the heck out of her grandkids. Do you want to become that witch? If you do, stop reading right now. Otherwise, find out what you can do to reach midlife with a jolly good attitude, well on your way to becoming a sassy and fun golden girl, no matter what your age is now.
1. -- Learn to recognize your faults.
This has to be one of the hardest things to learn. But once you get used to it, it's a breeze. Plus, it makes life way easier to navigate and dramatically improves your social interactions and relationships. Don't feel you're too young or too old to start doing this. You may be surprised at how empathetic others can be towards you when instead of becoming defensive, you admit to having messed up. Realizing you have a problem will make it easier to overcome an addiction or bad habits, and 'fessing up to a mistake will free your ego. I forget when I started doing this, maybe when I published my first book about my eating disorder at 30. I certainly wish I'd figured that one out earlier!
2. -- Don't be jaded.
Okay, so your parents had an unhappy marriage that left you with baggage. Your ex-husband cheated on you when you were married. Your second ex-husband is a con. Your business partner took your money. You're an orphan ... Ask around and you'll find that most of us are hit by some kind of injustice, pain, trauma, you name it. Don't wait until it's too late to get over it. Mourn your pain, but then cut your losses and keep on going. If you keep telling yourself that all guys are losers, that your life sucks because of your parents, or that the right job doesn't exist for you ... that'll be your reality, over and over. There's no mystic explanation to this. A sour attitude just won't let you meet the people who are right for you, personally or professionally. Lighten up! I'm telling you this a month before marrying the love of my life. And at 50, I've lived long enough to know what I'm saying ...
3. -- Be flexible.
If you are too rigid and set in your ways in your youth, by the time you hit your 50s you'll be OCD! It's fine to make plans for the month, for the year, heck for the next five years. But be ready to change them at a moment's notice. Being able to readily adapt to change will make your life much easier. It will help you both in your professional and personal endeavors. Whether you're hit by unemployment or divorce, being flexible and resilient will enable you to learn from your experiences and move forward, better equipped by experience.
4. -- Develop a hobby.
Having a hobby gives you a creative outlet and something to turn to when you're bored, frustrated or sad. Hobbies can keep you out of trouble when you're young, and be a lifesaver when you're older. They give you a sense of purpose, and fill you with the incomparable joy of doing something for the heck of it. I've had different hobbies throughout the years and I turn back to them as needed. Sketching, dancing salsa, writing a blog ... I've done a quite few things for fun. And it's never too late to start a new hobby, no matter what it is. And who knows, it may turn into a full-time occupation. But then you'll need to find another hobby!
5. -- Count your blessings.
If you make it a habit to be grateful for three things in your life every single day, you'll get used to focusing on the good stuff. That doesn't mean that shit won't happen, but you'll be better equipped to face it and you'll recover from it faster. After my divorce and during terribly bleak times, I wrote a gratitude journal that kept me going. Sometimes I could only jot down things such as the fact that I had the energy to get up and shower ... other days it was that a friend filled my gas tank, and eventually I was able to be thankful for landing a great gig. I'm teaching my kids to do this when they seem to find only reasons to complain.
What habits have you picked up or would like to develop in order to be a mostly happy camper when you're older?
[This post first ran on Viva Fifty!]