Middle Age —-Good or Bad?


I happened upon an article in the New York Times this morning during my leisurely stroll through the internet.  The article written by Patricia Cohen entitled Get a Midlife, made me stop and think about how “I” view midlife now that I am in the throes of it.  How did I get here?  Why it seems like just yesterday I was taking kids to football and basketball practice, swimming lessons and music lessons.  But in reality that was a while ago.  I think my memory is being affected.

The article suggests that with middle age we emphasize the losses that come with middle age rather than the positive gains that might occur.  You know–the disappearing waistline, decreased energy, saggy skin, achey joints, the list goes on and on and on.  Some of the new research is focusing on the other end of the spectrum.  It fits well with my glass half full mentality that I live by.  I would prefer to look at this subject this way.

To identify the things that contribute to feeling fulfilled and purposeful, Carol Ryff, the director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, developed a list of questions to measure well-being and divided them into six broad categories: personal growth (having new experiences that challenge how you think about yourself); autonomy (having confidence in your opinions even if they are contrary to the general consensus); supportive social relationships; self-regard (liking most aspects of your personality); control of your life and a sense of purpose.

So what did they find??? What I have found to be true in my own life. That those who are in the middle part of their life are truly more happy and content with life.  Maybe it is because we have “figured it out” a bit more than we had when we were younger.  Maybe the worries and stresses are less prevalent.  Perhaps it is because we have more developed social networks and support systems that allow us to handle things a bit better when life gets thrown at us.

The areas that were highlighted in this article as being better at 50 included sex (blush blush), judgment, creative abilities and the fact that there is actually more time to live out their dreams and aspirations than previous generations had.

So I have been thinking since reading this article—am I happy with being 50+?   A resounding YES! Though I can no longer practice my ninja skills due to creaky knees, can most likely not fit into that wedding dress I found last week that I wore almost 30 years ago or will be able to keep up with most 20 year olds in a walking/running exercise I am happy and content.  I have more maturity (ha!) and wisdom that is gained from life experiences.  I have a close relationship with our sons that is far different than it was when I was younger.  I have been allowed to explore the creative side of me and enjoy that to the fullest. So yes—I am happy and content with middle age.   I do not want to go back.  Well….maybe I would like to go back to being able to eat anything I wanted with no consequences but hey—I can get that part under control with a little bit of that middle age wisdom and self control, right?

The author of the article, Patricia Cohen concludes by writing:

So, 50 is 50. Be thankful for it.

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Comments

  1. It is nice to read something positive about getting older. My grandmother used to say that getting old isn’t for sissies. I found this funny. But as I get older I understand what she meant. I have more aches and pains and there are losses that you suffer. However, my grandmother would be the first to admit that life does get better. More memories to cherish and I’m finding less stress since I am over adding unneeded stress to my life. And I’ve learned to appreciate things in life more. I’m looking forward to my 50s and the experiences they will bring.

    • I am not a fan of the aches and pains and not moving as well as I used to but I know I can do something to help out with that a bit—lose about 15 pounds!!!! But it is a time of less stress and accepting that things will happen regardless of how much I worry about them. With age comes wisdom??? Maybe! Thanks for the comments!!!

  2. Well said indeed. There are great benefits to the lessons we have learned while our kids were growing up.

    I especially enjoy the fact that my children can now be my friends as well. Plus I love the time to be able to learn new things and conquer new projects—and I’ve got a few years on fifty. It’s all good and I’m grateful for it!

    • I totally agree with you, Ann. I love that our relationship with our boys has changed into one of friendship and respect and I am truly amazed by them. They have grown up to be incredible young men despite our bumblings!!!! Love does make a difference!

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I’m right there with you!

    • I think that most people that I know that are 50 + agree. Not so thrilled with the aches and pains but still overall—happy and content with their lot in life after 50. That is a good place to be.

  4. I can’t relate, yet. But hope when I’m there that I will look at myself and be positive about it… I always say.”Things can only get better.”

  5. Love this post. I am in my early 40’s but my husband is 51, and we are more content than ever…but apprehensive about what older age may bring. I noticed you were following my blog – thanks!

    • Kim–it creeps up before you know!!! Glad to hear that another person out there is content—apprehensive is probably a great way to be!!! Who knows what tomorrow will bring???? 🙂

  6. I had to laugh when I read this….
    I keep hearing that 50 is the new 30 — I totally disagree with that!
    I hated being 30 – it was really tough and I am about to be 52 – I have no problem being the age I am. I have a great relationship with my kids – I don’t have to worry about a lot of things I did when I was younger – there are new worries! But so what!
    I taught my kids there are big deals and little deals – and right now there are no big deals that I can think of!
    Great post!

    • Brenda, I know –it makes me laugh too when I hear that 50 is the new 30. While I liked my 30’s I think my life is a lot less stressful now! And finding out that we are the same age (I turn 52 in April) makes me happy!!! Big deals and little deals—great way of thinking of things that crop up. I find that the big deals turn out to be not so big usually!!! Thanks for the comments!

  7. Helen Brown says:

    Well, I am 82 and have arthritis but am thankful that I can still do walking, yoga and step class. It isn’t all bad. I had a real lift today when my yoga teacher told me I did better in balancing than she does. That gives me hope and gives me a reason to keep active. My advice, keep busy but not too busy, enjoy life as much as possible and thank God every day for His presence.

  8. Ha! I remember when I thought 30 was OLD! Who knew there was life after that? I love how active your mom is, Beth Ann. Good for you, Helen Brown!

    • Patti, Totally remember thinking that, too! It all becomes relative, doesn’t it??? And I hope that I am as active as my amazing mom! I have to schedule appointments with her just to see her she is so busy! What a great way to be!!!

  9. Good points and just what I needed to hear. What I want to know is, just how far down that line of profiles are we at midlife?

    • Great question, Christine!!!! I see you are working through your Google reader!!! 🙂 I probably have 1000’s in mine—I just need to clear it all out and start over. AGain.

      • Once you fall behind it’s murder trying to catch back up. I’m still trying. I thought I would be in better shape by now. With Mark’s upcoming surgery, I may not be caught up until spring, but then I’ll be working outside, so maybe not. Probably by summer, unless we have a big family party here again with the kids. Maybe in the fall. . .

  10. It’s good list, feels right to me.

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