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What Gets Better As We Age?

Aging brings a new awareness of limitations. Physical and health-related issues are part of the reality of living. Just a few years ago, things we could do without much strain are more difficult. We must work harder to remain fit and energetic.

At the same time, several aspects actually improve. In meaningful ways, our life can become richer and easier as we turn each page of the calendar. LIfe's experiences help us in very important ways.

As we move through the last few days of the first month of a new year, let's look at some of the things that tend to get better as we age:

1. We are less concerned with comparing ourselves to others. By now, we know ourselves well enough to stop constantly comparing ourselves to others. We know there are people who are better looking than us, have more money or fame than we do, are taller, or thinner, more athletic or smarter and there is nothing we can do to change those differences. Importantly, we care less about any of that as measures of our worth or satisfaction.

2. We are more confident when we make decisions. Usually, there is less second-guessing as we age. We understand the past can't be changed and the future is largely out of our control. We are better at assessing the pros and cons of a situation based on a lifetime of experience. 

3. Relationships with others are often better. Because of point #1, our relationships often improve as we age. We tend to be more attuned to the needs of others. We appreciate true friendship as an important gift. We eliminate superficial relationships that take our time but return little of value. We have learned from our relational mistakes and find ourselves more open with partners.

4. The religious aspects of life can become more important. Spirituality, participation in organized religion, or a self-directed connection with a greater power tend to increase as we age. Perhaps it is a growing sense of our own mortality. Maybe because we have more time to think and contemplate, we search for something that brings meaning to our existence. For some that means a return to church or synagogue. For others, it may mean moving away from organized religion to an individual quest.

5. Generosity and sharing tend to increase. Giving back becomes more important as we age. As a way to connect with others, volunteerism rises with age. We understand our ability to help those who are less fortunate is more important than continual self-betterment. Charity donations tend to increase. 

We are aware of the stereotypical grumpy old man (or woman) who turns inward, rejects others, complains about everything, and perfects the art of being stingy with resources and time. The good news is this response to aging is atypical. We are much more likely to adopt some or all of the five points made above. When we do, a satisfying retirement (or re-visioning) becomes a reality.


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