From the time I was 25, birthdays made me gloomy. I always felt I didn’t accomplish enough. But here I am, turning 61 — and feeling good about my life. There’s more happiness and depth than I thought possible. So it’s time to let go of disempowering beliefs about aging.
In reality, I’m grateful for wonderful health. I enjoy the company of friends and family. Working as a coach, consultant and professor is satisfying, too. If all this true, then what’s the problem?
The issue is simple: 60 feels old. And I’d like to change that feeling, at least in myself!
What the research says
It helps to know I have lots of company. Every hour, about 491 baby boomers turn 60, according to a Wall Street Journal article. We’re in better shape and more active than generations past.
Yet, we feel old because that’s what the under-30 crowd tells us. They think 60 is old, according to a study cited in the WSJ story. And we can’t just blame them. We have distorted views of ourselves, too. Men and women feel differently about aging:
- Somehow, 60-something guys think they look better than they do. (I’ll refrain from commenting on that.)
- And women think they look worse than they really do. (If we start talking about this, we’ll be here for hours.)
Well, reading this piece put things in perspective. Imagine — 60 years ago, the baby boomer generation peaked with the birth of 4.3 million babies. There’s so many of us. Together, we can re-define what it means to be 60-something.
So I’d like to round out this post by sharing how I enjoyed turning 61 and feeling good about it.
Turning 61 and feeling good about it
This year, celebrating my birthday was a chance to shed the negative thinking behind disempowering beliefs. Here’s where new attitudes took me:
Validation is satisfying. For years, I’d tell people not to fuss about my birthday. I turned down dinner invitations and didn’t want flowers. No one on Facebook knew when I was born.
But this year, I let my sister Pauline take me to dinner. My daughter, who was out of town, sent a pretty bouquet. Facebook friends bombarded me with birthday greetings. I enjoyed it all.
Decluttering opens up space for new experiences. As a news junkie, I get home delivery of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. I’m always ripping out articles with plans to file them away.
Instead, the papers and magazines pile up, making me feel disorganized and anxious. So this morning, I grabbed the whole mess and threw it in the recycling bin. Exhaling was a relief.
Let go of the past. In the past 12 months, I got over a relationship breakup. Separately, I also found compassion for my parents. Between these huge changes, I learned that resentment turns me into a victim. And, that I have the power and responsibility to take care of myself.
That’s where I am now, on my birthday. Ready for rebirth. Turning 61 and feeling good about it. :)
How do you celebrate your birthday and handle getting older? Would love to hear your experiences!