The Pleasures of Getting On

"I was born with no hair, no teeth and no money, and I still have most of it." Anon

Much has been said about the drawbacks of getting older, such as not being able to tolerate head-banging music and being ignorant of the latest teen craze. It is also true that the phrase "healthy ageing" is an oxymoron. Yet there are advantages too. The benefits of getting past, say 55, to name an arbitrary number, are:

1) You care much less about what other people think. Young people are concerned with appearing to be cool, hip and with-it, and often compare themselves with their peers.

2) You have probably left behind the FOMO syndrome - the fear of missing out.

3) You know your mental and physical limitations. You realise you won't become a fighter pilot, concert pianist or Olympic medallist.

4) You are no longer searching for your own identity. You know who you are, including what you like and dislike.

5) You realise that you cannot be liked by everyone, nor do you need everyone to be your friend. You have less need to conform.

6) You have become so sick of repeating certain mistakes that you do so less often.

7) You realise that certain things that seemed important do not matter. One of these is appearance.

8) You know the universe does not revolve around you and that your case is not special. You have learnt not take things personally.

9) You have left shyness behind.

10) You know you cannot win all the time, that some things work out in your favour, whereas others do not. You have learned to roll with the punches.

11) You have ceased obeying or rebelling against your parents and their norms.

12) You no longer try to prove yourself. You have ceased trying to make your way in the world.

13) You have stopped worrying about what you'll be when you grow up.

14) You have learned to accept many of the limitations of your life.

15) Hopefully, you have an internal locus of evaluation, as opposed to automatically accepting consensus and the judgments of your peer group.

16) You know much more about your own body, what its weaknesses are, what to worry about, how to get over injuries, and so forth.

17) Instead of building up your ego you can begin the process of dismantling it.

18) You have a much better idea of what is in your control and what isn't, eg other people.

19) You have learned to accept many things that seemed unacceptable in your youth. In particular, you accept your own faults more than you did when young.

20) You have learned to let go of certain things, such as being fashionable, having a perfectly clean house, and being 100% healthy.

21) Having seen how things pan out repeatedly over the decades, you have become more of a realist.

22) It is likely that you have become more balanced and moderate in your views of life, politics and other people.

23) You have become less reactive and do not get upset as easily.

24) Hopefully, you have learned to become undefensive. If someone makes a critical comment about something you did then you can evaluate it without going into a defensive posture.

25) You have more patience. Young people want everything immediately.

26) You live more in the moment rather than in the future.

27) You are generally more relaxed.

28) You can explain mistakes and memory lapses by recourse to "senior moments".

27) There was one more, but I forgot it.

Tad Boniecki
November 2015

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