The Mid-life Celebration
As the nation of Singapore turned 50 this month, perhaps some of us may wonder what celebrating a personal golden jubilee year may feel like! Well, for those edging closer in age to this widely celebrated 'mid-life' point, that is. For those of us who have already crossed to the other side – we can tell you honestly – age is just a number J
Yes, you read the title right! There never has to be a crisis at middle age… on the contrary, it is a privilege that is worth celebrating!
I know it may be hard to see past the thinning hair, thickening waistline and the "Darn it, can't the font size on the menus be just a tad bigger? My arm can only reach so far" moments.
So, here are my top tips to help you look forward to your arrival into a new period of life, as opposed to dreading it. You really have cause to celebrate!
#1: You can honestly say, "Been there, done that" to a long list of experiences
A guarantee to peace of mind is to know that you no longer have to wonder if something is worth exploring or doing. Assuming you have done lots in your life up to this point (if not, see tip #2!) you'll never have to say yes ever again if you don't want to do any of these hair-raising activities others may cajole you into doing - for example: roller coaster rides, sky-diving, walking along a waterfall, white-water rafting, highway motorcycle racing, running a marathon, playing mahjong...you get my drift. Once you have got your tongue burnt by the world's hottest ghost chili pepper, or owned one of the world's most coveted handbag, the Hermes Birkin, or been at the top of the corporate ladder, feel free to tell yourself to reflect and rejoice that you have experienced and accomplished so much in life, and you now truly see the next opportunity with the wisdom that only the ones who have trodden the path can do.
#2: You can add experiences and things to your life that really count
It's refreshing when you know your unique likes and dislikes at this point in your life, assuming you have allowed yourself to try many things. You are now in a position to discern the meaningful activities (let’s add things and people too, in this) you wish to add to your life's journey. You may find yourself hungry for an experience you've always thought you should do but have yet to, for a myriad of reasons, and are determined to plan for it to happen. My two cents – don't wait, do it. These are the ones that count and add to your overall celebration of life. And if you consider that you 'haven't lived', then you should get going! Visit the places you have always wanted to, taste the flavours that intrigue you and do the thing that you suspect might bring you smiles!
#3: You have made impressing others less of an obsession
We are no longer in the head space where we have to worry so much about what others think - social media presence or not. This comes with the territory where self-confidence and self-knowing rule! When someone comments on how we look, we can either say a gracious Thank You or a polite Mind Your Own Business. We no longer have to use other's compliments as a currency to make us feel good. We have a lot in our foundation by now that a comment here or there is not going to dent our spirit. Instead we can spend energy listening out for new lessons and gems of wisdom that will enrich our life.
#4: Your health and fitness become a real priority
At this stage, more real attention is paid to what we eat and drink, how we move and how much sleep we get. We appreciate the knowledge that the key to ageing gracefully is to treat our mind and body right. No longer do we 'bounce back' as well from a late night of partying as when we were in our twenties (right?). And for some, it’s frustrating that we don't need to eat the food for it to end up on our waist J When we appreciate that great health is ultimately our real wealth, we tend to take matters of wellness more seriously. Seek support some a trusted health advisor (e.g. health coach, nutritionist, fitness coach) as you would a financial advisor for your investments, in order to build a strong foundation going forward. Ensure you keep depositing into your health bank so you can look forward to being very active and disease-free well into your next 50 years.
#5: You know who your real friends are
I think you know what I am referring to here - those precious friendships that have survived through thick and thin, and through distances of space and time. People are in our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime and being at this stage of life, you have amassed friendships and relationships of all kinds! Studies have shown that it is friendships, not genetics that are an indication to how long we will live... Treasure your true friends and family, and continue to make new connections in real life (as opposed to the virtual one) as these form the cornerstone to lasting health and happiness.
#6: Learn how to let things go
Someone once said, "You can't start a new chapter if you keep re-reading the last one." As you approach or have crossed the mid-life point, ask yourself what is in the baggage that you have dragged round with you for a while. The past needs to stay firmly there and it’s useful only for our edification and none of it needs to feature in our future, if we don't want it to. Have you ever met people whose presence and being seem so light and cheery you just know they have let go of the things that don’t serve them anymore? I have devoted quite a few pages in my upcoming book about this topic as I feel that this skill is critical not only for our sanity, but for the quest to be our best selves!
#7: Time to get in the flow
Renowned psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied and introduced to the world his concept of Flow, which is a phenomenal study of happiness and creativity. The gist of it is this: through many years of studying contentment, Csikszentmihalyi noticed that when we are in the process of creating something we know we are uniquely meant to do, our level of happiness increases to the point where we actually lose track of time! Why think about this now, you ask? Well, at this point in your life, don’t you think that today’s mindless pursuit of wealth needs to give way to something more meaningful? Research tells us that beyond a certain level of material comfort, the return to our mental well-being from money alone is not that much greater. Instead, we need to consider reconnecting with the part of us that has the vision to bring something meaningful to the world as a path to our own happiness.
Here's to you... standing from a new vantage point where you no longer think about mid-life as a crisis (what's the problem here?!?) but as a privilege and a celebration of accomplishments and new experiences leading all the way to the next 50 years!
Sally May Tan
Founder and Principal Consultant
Catalyst Health Asia
Sally is also the author of an upcoming book, Wellness, The New Luxury (www.wellnessthenewluxury.com) and a certified health coach, speaker and entrepreneur.