Aging And The Gift Of Wisdom – 18 Things I Know Now And Wish I Would Have Known When I Was Young

 

Aging is one of those things in life that can be challenging and while it is part of life, people oftentimes head into their fifties with a sense of dread. Time has a way of going much too fast and most people are simply not prepared for some of the many changes that accompany aging as the days of youth slip quietly into the past.

In all honesty, it is hard for me to believe that I am in my fifties and there are days when I struggle with all of the changes that are now a part of my daily life. Aging is sometimes hard but I have learned that aging is also a gift and one of the most important and priceless gifts that comes with age is wisdom.

Life is a journey and while life is filled with both ups and downs there are so many lessons that we can learn along the way. It is because of the many experiences, both good and bad, that I have become the person I am today and it is the wisdom gained with each passing year, that enables people to grow and share.

With age comes opportunity and it is a time to reflect and yes, analyze your life’s successes and where you might have failed. The coming of age can shine a very bright light on who we once were and who we have become. With age comes increased self-awareness and the ability to identify those things in our lives that we love and those things that we want or need to change.

Age and wisdom can help guide people through the next phase of their lives ultimately helping them to choose a better path or one that will lead to a happier and more peace filled life.

When I think back to my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, there are so many things that I wish I would have known or done differently. Yes, I have many regrets and quite honestly, I would change many things if I could. Obviously, we cannot change the past but we can learn from it, grow from it and use the wisdom gained to map out the next phase of the journey. Most importantly, we can embrace this hard-earned wisdom and share it with others that are still immersed in their youth.

While I still have so much to learn and I believe that we should never stop evolving or growing, here are 18 things that I would like to share with others who are navigating their lives and their youth. Of course, these are helpful reminders for anyone and regardless of age.

  1. Learn to love yourself. So many people are far too critical and hard on themselves. We are constantly beating ourselves up, feeling like we are not good enough and trying to please everyone but ourselves. We spend a great deal of time taking care of others and somehow forget to practice self-care and often times sacrifice who we are in the process. It is impossible to truly love others if you cannot first learn to love yourself. Love and embrace ALL of who you are. It is critical to love yourself if you want to live a happy and fulfilled life.
  2. Set boundaries.  Life is incredibly busy and it is easy to get caught in the trap of over-scheduling and having too much on our plates. One of the things that people struggle with is the ability to say no and learning to set boundaries is equally as hard. The result? Stress. Exhaustion. Unhappiness. Looking back, I had a difficult time saying no and I was constantly feeling like I was stretched too thin. Saying no and setting boundaries is important to your wellbeing and while it may be hard to do, it is a skill that people can learn and implement in their lives. Establishing and setting boundaries will help you to have more time in life to enjoy those you love and to pursue the things you love to do.
  3.  Be positive. Life is hard and it is difficult to slide through a day without hearing about something negative whether it is in conversation, on the news or in the paper. Negativity surrounds us and therefore it is understandable that it can be a challenge to stay positive. However, negativity is toxic and can lead to all kinds of problems. Negativity can impact our health, increase stress, lead to depression, anxiety and hopelessness. Negativity can ruin relationships, impact our ability to focus, cause problems at work and disrupt our ability to enjoy life. While it can be difficult, it is important to be aware of the thoughts going in and out of your mind. Focus on the positive and direct your energy towards positivity versus negativity. Remember: no one can control your attitude but YOU. It is far more rewarding to have a positive attitude versus a negative one.
  4. Forgive.  Forgiveness is, at times, one of the hardest things for people to do. It is hard to forgive others when we are hurt or angry and it can be even more difficult to forgive ourselves. The result? An inability to forgive can keep us stuck in a place we no longer want to be. It is when we cannot forgive others or ourselves that we are burdened with negative and toxic emotions. Feelings of anger, regret, resentment, blame, sadness and sometimes hate can truly impact our happiness and the ability to find peace in our lives. It is important to work through your feelings, let go and to forgive. Forgiving leads to a feeling of freedom and remember it is not always for the other person. Forgiving is a gift for YOU.
  5. Practice Gratitude.  I have learned that no matter how bad life seems, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. It can be difficult to see but if you truly take a step back from whatever is going on in your life, there is still good surrounding you and there are things to appreciate it. It might be something small, but it is there. If you are feeling down, struggling or life feels hard, sit down and write a gratitude list. Take five minutes and list out everything that you appreciate or feel grateful for. This is a great ritual to implement into your daily life and it can truly help you to find your joy.
  6. Choose Well.  One of life’s biggest lessons for me was to learn that most everything we do in this journey comes down to choice. Yes, there are things that happen out of our control but daily life is filled with choices from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes at night. One wrong choice can have serious and life changing consequences. It is important to be self-aware and to try to make good choices. Don’t get me wrong. Part of life is about making mistakes and everyone makes them. That’s okay but it is important  to learn from mistakes.  It is sometimes because of mistakes that we learn, grow and gain valuable wisdom. Be accountable. Take responsibility for your own life and the choices you make; good or bad. Do the next right thing each day and know that you did your best when you close your eyes at night. Choose well and you will have peace in your heart.
  7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.  It is easy to get caught up in everything that is wrong in our lives versus everything that is right. Human beings tend to worry about every little thing including those things that are small and trivial in the big picture of life. Worrying about little things and especially things that are not important creates stress that is unnecessary. Prioritize and focus on what truly matters. Don’t waste your time or your energy on the small stuff. It is not worth it.
  8. The Grass Is Not Always Greener On The Other Side. This is an important life lesson and it can take years for people to embrace it and believe it. We spend far too much time wanting what we don’t have. Human beings constantly compare themselves to others feeling pressured to do more, be more and have more. People get lulled into believing that there is always something better around the next corner leaving us feeling unsatisfied and always craving something more. It is important to set realistic expectations and to again, appreciate what we have. The grass is greener principle is often times a myth and just not true. Be wary of this trap and avoid it. Live in the moment and while it is okay to work on improving our lives it is also important to love what you have.
  9. Practice Self-Care.  Life is busy and sadly, one of the things we neglect most often is ourselves. For years, I did not take care of myself. I had developed plenty of bad habits.  It is critical that you take care of YOU. This includes both your emotional and physical health. People often times get stuck in bad habits that can lead to long-term health issues. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, rest and sleep, be mindful, reflect and eliminate those things that are not good for you. You are given one life to live and one body to take care of. Establish healthy habits now. It is never too late to change course and start taking care of yourself.  Do not take your health for granted. It can be taken away from you in a heartbeat and your life will never be the same. Appreciate your health, your mobility, your mind and each day you are blessed to live and breathe. Period.
  10. Find Your Passion.  There are so many people in the world that are struggling to find their purpose in life or do not seem to have the time to pursue their passions. It is important to find both purpose in this journey and to find your passions. Perhaps you are able to enjoy your passion at work or perhaps it is something that you are able to do on the side. Regardless, find those things that you love to do and make sure you are creating time and space to enjoy them. Perhaps it is writing or painting. Perhaps it is biking, fashion or cooking. Whatever it is, do it.
  11. Keep Your Ego In Check.  The ego likes to run the show and the ego can create a lot of issues for people. The EGO would like you to believe that once everything falls into place, you will find peace but at the end of the day it is when you find peace that everything will fall into place. There is truth to that statement. Stop letting your ego control who you are and start channeling your energy inward. Pay attention to your heart and your spirit. Let those things guide you more often and don’t get so caught up in those things that do not matter.
  12. Surround Yourself With Family and Friends That Support YOU.  We all have people in our lives that are negative, judgmental or do not support us. It is those people who can drain our energy and can create a barrier to our happiness. If there are people in your life that are toxic, create distance and separate yourself from them as much as possible. Surround yourself and spend time with people who are positive, accept you, support you and love you for who you are. You deserve to be loved and respected by those people who want to be in your life. Don’t settle for less.
  13. Outer Beauty Fades But Inner Beauty Is Timeless.  This is a tough one. Aging and all of the physical changes that come with it can be difficult for some people. While I still struggle with this,  I have learned over time that it is important to be humble and to accept that we all age and that yes, looks do fade. However, there are things we can do to take care of ourselves and to age with grace. Inner beauty does not fade and in fact, it is our inner beauty that can improve and become better with time. Focus on your inner beauty and shine.
  14. It Is Never Too Late To Change.  It is easy for people to get stuck in life and to sometimes feel hopeless or like it is impossible to change. Hear this.  It is NEVER too late to change. If there are things that you do not like in your life or there are things that are causing you to be unhappy or creating issues in your life; CHANGE THEM. Remember, so much of what happens in our lives is a choice. You have the power to change. Stop making excuses and find the inner strength to do whatever it takes to change. If you can’t do it on your own, ask for help. You can change regardless of your age and regardless of your past. Your life will be better for it.
  15. Be Kind.  It is much easier to be kind to others than to be cruel or mean. Kindness is a gift and it is one that can change lives. You can make a difference in this world. Volunteer. Pay it forward. Give. Share. Hug. Share. Donate. Smile. It is impossible to know what another is going through and even the smallest act of kindness can change someone’s life and in being kind to others, it can ultimately change yours. Besides, you never know when you might need someone to do the same for you. Be kind. It costs you nothing.
  16. Laugh.  It is a proven fact that releasing your inner child and having fun in life can do wonders for improving quality of life. Laughter truly is the best medicine. When was the last time you had a gut splitting good old laugh with someone? We all work hard and life can be so busy and so stressful. Take time out to have fun, do the things you love and laugh as often as you can. It will make a huge difference in your life and even when things are going wrong, laughter can make things feel a little brighter.
  17. Polarity Is Good.  Life is constantly changing and as hard as it might be, we need polarity in our lives. I have learned that we need to experience darkness to truly appreciate the light. We need to hurt and experience pain so that we can truly embrace happiness and joy. We need to sometimes cry but wow does it feel good when we can feel happy and laugh. We need to sometimes lose everything so that we can finally appreciate all that we have. Embrace the good and the bad in life. There are so many lessons to be learned. Life is full of wisdom. Look for it. Embrace it. Learn from it and then share it with the world.
  18. Simplify And Slow Down.  Society is overwhelmed and life is too busy much of the time. We get caught up in the chaos and we miss what is truly important and what matters the most. One of life’s greatest tragedies is waking up one day and wondering where the time went. How did we get here? How can I possibly be this old? When did my children grow up and become adults? Why did I wait to go on that trip and now I’m to sick to go? We hear stories all the time about people who saved their entire lives, did nothing but work and then fell ill or passed away before they could truly enjoy life, take that trip, enjoy their children or spend time with those they loved. Don’t wait to spend time with the people you love. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Hug your kids. Talk to your spouse. Take walks. Watch the sunset. Pursue your passions. Simplify your life. Focus on what matters. Say I love you; right now. Do not take those you love for granted. Time is precious and so is your life and those in it. Nothing can replace your family and friends. Don’t assume that you have more time; ever.

Aging and wisdom. They go hand in hand and in most cases, you cannot have one without the other. Take a deep look inside and recognize that regardless of your age, you have the gift of wisdom. Pay attention to it and allow it to guide you to living your best life. You have one life. Make it a good one.

In Peace and With Love

 

Michele

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