It was vintage rocker Mick Jagger who once said, “I’d rather be dead than singing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m forty-five.” Now 73, Jagger shows no signs of slowing down. Not only are The Rolling Stones still rocking the world one arena at a time, but Jagger is also a father to eight children with ages ranging from a one-year-old to his oldest child aged 45. Could it be that he discovered what many of today’s seniors already know? The golden years can be surprisingly — satisfying.
Before you groan at the stubborn gray hairs and creaking joints, realize that getting older offers unique advantages that make it cooler than you think.
We should mention the plethora of special deals extended to seniors. From skiing and travel to dining and shopping. Retailers are surprisingly celebratory of the older population as consumers.
“You can go skiing for half the cost. Free, if you’re 85 or older,” wrote Bart Astor. “Movie theaters offer senior rates. And there are thousands of discounts available to those who are over 65. AARP membership brings with it even more benefits.” Also, National Parks extend free entrance fees with a golden pass for seniors, and car rental agencies offer discounts for older travelers.
For many older adults, canceling out unnecessary noise is essential to get through the day. So, when we sit down to listen – we choose to listen. If you have something to say, you have our full attention.
Blame it on decreased energy levels and the need to choose our battles rather than fight for every victory, but older adults carry a deeper understanding of what requires our attention and what can pass us by. Life is no longer driven by perfectionism. Instead, seniors cultivate meaningful relationships, maintain good health, and pursue interests that make them happy. Everything else simply doesn’t matter much anymore.
Whether they choose to squander it or stretch it thin, seniors have better control over their time. “Too much time proves to be just as daunting as too little,” wrote Julia Cameron, author of It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. “Ultimately, time is ours to shape and use.”
In a life filled with struggles, regret, pain, and loss, old age personifies the later chapters in life that illustrate how humans can endure and learn from any experience. The lessons we learn from our elders is the importance of patience, perseverance, faith, and love.
Did you just embarrass yourself in public? Are you upset because the boss didn’t agree with your project ideas? “Not all decisions turn out well,” said Donald P. Nielsen, a member of Harvard Business School’s graduating class of 1963. “Be prepared to deal with problems over which you have no control.” Older adults live with the reality that their body is changing, their mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and society isn’t quite sure how to treat them. None of these circumstances can be controlled, so why worry about it? There’s no need to delay happiness any longer. The time is right to be happy where you are and focus on the things you can control.
You never know when the next meal will be your final one. “Often we act as though we are going to live forever,” wrote Richard Carlson, Ph.D., author of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, and it’s all small stuff. “Live each day as if it were your last on this earth. This will remind you how precious life really is.” Older adults learn not to take life too seriously. So, when the opportunity presents itself: order dessert first.
After spending most of our adult life providing for a family, sustaining financial security, raising children, achieving personal goals, mentoring others while they work toward their goals, among other things, we have earned the right to a cozy afternoon nap. In fact, studies show the younger population would benefit from taking an afternoon nap too.
The secret to a full, value-laden life is to continue learning new things. But when you have reached an age where you have seen and done most things, it’s time to dig deep for new experiences. Whether it’s a computer class or ballroom dancing, the process of learning something new is intensely gratifying — at any age.
It’s refreshing to know that reaching for the cans on the high shelf at the grocery store or carrying the heavy bags while traveling can be a thing of the past. “It’s amazing to see the number of people who will come forward to lend a hand,” said Astor. Older adults spent their younger years doing the heavy lifting for others; it’s nice to see their efforts pay it forward.
There’s no need to dread the inevitable transition into the golden years. Instead, why not celebrate it? Here are ten reasons why getting older can be a positive and enriching phase in everyone’s life — even if you need to put on your reading glasses to see it.
J'Nel Wright is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in topics concerning health and wellness, aging, caregiving, humor, travel and business. Her work has appeared in a variety of regional and national publications. Her educational background includes a bachelor's degree in English and Social Work. She has traveled throughout Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, French Polynesia, Mexico and much of the United States. She is a full time writer.