By Trena Winans, Education & Community Outreach Director
No one can say that a life with childhood, manhood and old age is not a beautiful arrangement; the day has its morning, noon and sunset, and the year has its seasons, and it is good according to its own season. And if we take this biological view of life and try to live according to the seasons, no one but a conceited fool or impossible idealist can deny that human life can be lived like a poem. ~ Lin Yutang, Human Life, A Poem
Recently a post on Sixty and Me caught my eye. They asked what their readers loved about getting older, and I found the responses fascinating. As you might guess, there were several people who had nothing good to say, but the overwhelming majority of responses were very positive and detailed wonderful benefits of getting older. Recent blog posts, TED Talks, and articles about this topic have yielded similar conclusions. There is much to love about the later seasons of our lives!
Below are the main themes that I noticed along with a few favorite quotes.
Freedom Numerous people report that they feel more free than they did when they were younger. Freedom from work and many societal restraints gives a broader array of choices.
Being Alive! There is a greater appreciation for health and joy in simply being alive.
Perspective The hard-won experiences of life give a wider and more holistic lens through which to view the world.
No Alarm Clocks! There is time to sit quietly with a cup of coffee, to watch the news, and to reflect. When time is your own, it leaves room to be creative, spend time with people you care about, and to travel.
Gratitude Many people report feeling more grateful, more humble, and more loving, with deeper relationships.
No Longer People-Pleasers A big theme is freedom from feeling the need to please everyone. When the goal is less to be liked than to be authentic, many older adults report feeling less intimidated by others and gaining a stronger sense of self-worth.
“I finally know the difference between pleasing and loving, obeying and respecting. It has taken me so many years to be okay with being different, and with being this alive, this intense.” ~ Eve Ensler, I am an Emotional Creature
Confidence With their greater experience, many people find they have gained self-assurance. They have stories to tell and are less worried about how things will turn out and less a slave to perfectionism.
“When I was young everyone older than me was frightening…the confidence comes not with just feeling others are not a threat but actually no longer being a threat. If I’m not frightened of you and you’re not frightened of me, then that breeds confidence—and friendliness—on either side.” ~ Virginia Ironside, The Virginia Monologues—Why Growing Old is Great
Knowledge Contrary to what society seems to expect, some older adults love the way their minds work differently as they get older. Maturity allows deeper understanding and wider knowledge.
“I’ll trade the few years of youth for the sophistication of a great mind…for however long it lasts.” ~ Donna Lynn Hope
And now I turn the question back to you. What do you love about getting older?