Does Life Get Easier As We Age?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on December 20, 2009

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Last week I met a lovely woman named Charlene.

Charlene lives in a nearby town and was coming to pick up a box of Glo Bars that she purchased for family down in Texas.

I was struck by Charlene’s enthusiasm and her generosity in helping spread the word about my business. One thing I have learned since starting this business is that there are many people who are willing to go out of their way to help. Charlene is definitely one of those people.

Charlene asked me about ‘my story’- how I left my research job and, on a whim, started the bakery shortly after. She commended me for finding my path so early on in life and for being able to listen to my heart at such a young age. Charlene, who is married with children and in her early 40’s, recently made a career change in recent years and was so much happier as a result.

She said, "The 20’s weren’t great. The 30’s were child-bearing years, but the 40’s are awesome!", implying that a woman’s life only improves with age. We grow in confidence, wisdom, and courage to follow our dreams and take a risk.

Even research demonstrates that one’s happiness increases with age!

Is this because we are more secure in ourselves?

Personally, I have made huge gains in self-confidence since my late teens and early twenties. Today, I wouldn’t dream of saying some of the nasty things to myself like I used to. I don’t beat myself up anymore, or at least I keep it to a minimum whenever possible.

I tell myself that I can do what I dream to do. The only barriers to my goals are the ones I tell myself in my own mind.

I know I am still not quite there yet, which makes me excited for the future. I am looking forward to the day when I can truly scream at the top of my lungs,

"I AM A WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR"

…and truly embrace the words with every aspect of my being and not hold back.

But I can’t help but wonder, must we wait until we are half way through our lives until we harness this hidden power? Is this ‘delayed happiness’ simply a generational constraint of The Boomer generation? If it is, why do young women in their 20’s and 30’s still feel its’ lingering effects?

Old habits die hard, of course.

In university, I stuck with psychology even though I didn’t see many career options out there for myself. I really wanted to be in the health or writing fields. I disliked grad school even more, but I denied my own happiness and gut feelings. I kept putting off my happiness for a later date. Of course that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some unhappy times! Unhappiness is a part of the ebb and flow of life, just like happiness is.

As women, I think that we need to stop delaying our happiness for a later date. When will this madness end? You tell me that you are going to settle for being happy when you retire? After the kids move out? When you win the lottery? After you graduate?

Of course, we must delay our happiness some of the time. We might not reach for that slice of cake after a hard workout even though we really want to. Or we stay up through the night looking after a sick child. We struggle to pay the bills while paying for night school. Sometimes delaying happiness is necessary and sometimes it isn’t. Telling the difference between the two isn’t easy and is something that I assume gets easier with age.

I do think life gets better as we age, but I also think that there are ways in which we can speed up the process. Self reflection and ‘inner work’ on a weekly, if not daily, basis will remind us that happiness is not a destination, but a journey.

~~~

Do you tend to put off happiness for a later date?
Do you think that life gets better with age and have you seen any changes in yourself?

I’d love to hear from older readers as well- tell me your experience!

Angela_Signature 

The only journey is the journey within.
Rainer Maria Rilke

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

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Ameena December 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm

A really interesting post! I have always put off happiness for the future and only recently have I been trying to “seize the day.”

I absolutely think that happiness comes with age because you realize what is important (kids, family) and what might not be as important as you thought (job, money).

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The Voracious Vegan December 21, 2009 at 1:26 am

I love getting older. I’m only 27 right now but I look forward to each birthday, and every year, and every decade with so much excitement. I KNOW that peace and joy and confidence grows every year, how could it not? We just get smarter and more powerful as our lives go on, isn’t it amazing?

I can’t wait to be a kick ass old crone, I’m going to be a handful for sure!

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Leah December 21, 2009 at 1:26 am

I feel like I’m definitely happier now than I was say 5 years ago. You learn as you get older. I think that’s what makes the difference. I’ve learned to be easier on myself. So what if I’m not where I thought I would be by now. There are worse things.
It totally makes sense to me that life gets better as we age.

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Hillary @ Nutrition Nut on the Run December 21, 2009 at 3:57 am

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOUR for your positive post. It couldn’t have been more perfect time. It really hit home today.

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Miz December 21, 2009 at 7:33 am

yes yes yes

the gift of turning 40 is that I 100% see myself through my eyes alone—and not the eyes of others.

carla

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Paige @ Running Around Normal December 21, 2009 at 9:10 am

Love this post Angela! I’m in a situation, where there are two roads, one is the logical, safe way, and one is the happy way. It’s such a tough decision.

I definitely think this year has been the year where I’ve made the most progress ever being comfortable in my own skin. I love this feeling :)

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Shelly December 21, 2009 at 11:53 am

My happiness has increased exponentially in the latter half of my 20’s (I’m 28). It took going through a horrible grad school experience and a really bad divorce, but I learned that I had to make happiness a priority in my life. Once I did that, my life really took a turn for the wonderful. :) As for feeling more secure with myself- I think that getting through some really difficult life events made me aware of just how strong I really am- it was actually a real confidence booster! And of course, I am so much more appreciative of the good things in my life- my wonderful fiance, family, friends, job, and city. It also taught me that I have to take the time to take care of myself because when you feel good- you are so much happier!

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Forty Something December 21, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Mid forties here, life gets better with age! For one you stop making the same stupid mistakes and hell some memory loss starts to apply to those over forty and some vision loss. So now you can mostly forget the things you want too, look in the mirror without glasses and look smooth as a baby’s bottom and I think it’s just more of a not really giving a damn what others think, you have earned your age and all that goes with it. Vanity is a privilege of the young. Hitting the late thirty’s you start to go south just a bit. Kind of concerning really but then you just sort of except it and start looking at your wrinkles, greys and saggy parts with a bit of humour and a… well at least I haven’t got to harness up my boobs yet with some over the shoulder bolder holders attitude. Keep the faith. I don’t think you can rush life. I think you need to embrace every stage and love it to its fullest as we never get our stages back. People who say I wouldn’t do such and such an age again are embracing every stage and taking in everything it has to offer so they don’t feel a need to go back and do a stage over. It gets better because age forces us to relax and has taught us how important the here and now is and also all the wonderful things we have to look forward too.

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Angela (ohsheglows) December 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Best comment ever…amazing! Thank you :)

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Sarah December 21, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Great post. My personal view is that women in particular tend to “save” too many things for a day that may never come – that special dress, that trip, that career change. But sometimes that day never comes (dress becomes too small), lose the ability to travel, etc. With that in mind, I’ve tried to put the saving ways of my 20s behind and act on opportunities when they arise. I’m not reckless, but if I find a great dress, I’m making up an event to wear it to!

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Kasey December 21, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Great post! I sometimes have to remind myself that life is a journey not a destination. While it’s great having goals and working towards them, if you become too focused on where you want to be you may miss the beautiful ride!

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Amber from Girl with the Red Hair December 22, 2009 at 12:03 am

GREAT post. I am only 21 but I can already see how life is so much better and getting better every day from when I was 17-18. I am looking forward to what the future holds!

I also agree with what a few readers said about how we have to MAKE ourselves happy. Something that I really need to work on in my life is living in the present. I need to quit thinking about the future and how I’ll be happy/fulfilled/”living life” when I’m done school/married/have a career etc. I AM living life, every single one of us is, and I need to focus on being present more often.

Once again, great post!

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