Well, here I am. 50 years old whether I want to claim it or not. My life turned upside down in the past couple of years–losses I don’t care to recount. But I think a half century on this earth gives me the right to give unsolicited advice. So here it goes:
1) Do things that you suck at and that scare you. Do them until you suck a little less and are a little less scared. If you get more scared, stop.
2) Protect your body. It heals slower and hurts more as you age. Doing things like swimming 4+ rapids in whitewater or a 180 degree flip on mountain bike with pedals attached to your feet aren’t as easy to recover from as they were when you were 20. But find ways to do the things that scare you without permanently damaging your body.
3) Love large. Love unconditionally. Let go of pettiness and complaint. When you hear yourself complaining, stop. At 50, you’ve been around long enough to know that life is good and complaining is a waste of energy.
4) Let go of judgment. This might be the same as #3 because complaining is a sure sign of judgment. Listening and observing with an open heart is far more productive than judging.
5) Do not confuse discretion and integrity with judgment. It’s OK to say misogyny is wrong. Racism is wrong. Anything, really, that judges people collectively is wrong. It’s OK to be angry when people are mistreated, misjudged, denied their human rights. In fact, it’s not just OK, it’s imperative.
6) Forgive and accept your own limitations. This is a good time to realize there are some things about you that aren’t rational and never will be. For example, I will always feel like a 50-foot woman whenI am next to a guy who is the same height as me. It’s a misperceptions on my part. But it’s time to stop feeling bad about it and accept it as a preference.
7) Prioritize what matters most. For me, I have to be outside. I have learned that my fundamental happiness and ability to experience joy are dependent on being outdoors as often as possible. For you, it might be spending time with your children or grandchildren. Whatever it is, make time for it.
8) Believe. Believe that those dreams you thought you would have fulfilled by the time you were 30 are still possible. Believe that your whole life is in front of you. That you can still do and/be what you imagined for yourself.
9) Take action or let go. Sometimes we cling to ideas of ourselves or things we think we *should* do. Letting go of the person we will never be or the actions we will never take frees out energy to focus on what we can and will do.
10) Do yoga. There is nothing quite like yoga to teach being in the present moment. It’s the most powerful lesson there is–after all, we only actually have the present. Breathing, moving, feeling–yoga reminds us that we are alive in a way that carries over throughout the day and reminds us that all we really have is now.
I could go on. But I’m 50 and I need more sleep than I used to.
Happy Birthday! Here’s to many more. I am a couple years away from being 50 myself.