Three Benefits of Midlife
What words come to mind when you think of Midlife? Most people I’ve spoken with associate midlife with loss of youth and the stress of achieving a home/worklife balance. We’ve all heard phrases like “Midlife Crisis” and “Over the Hill.” Television and print ads everywhere focus on our loss of youth and offer creams, pills, diets and exercise that will help us maintain youth (and with that is the expectation of happiness). But the reality is that midlife is something we can and should look forward to. And pills, diets, and creams are not needed to reap the benefits and lead a happy, fulfilled middle age. Here are three reasons why:
1. We know who we are – We’ve established our identity. Midlife is our opportunity to pursue the interests and relationships we associate with our sense of self. We choose our friends, our careers and even where we live based on our identity. By midlife, we are productive in our pursuits and get fulfillment from achieving goals related to our identity. That could mean identifying with parenting, a career, a faith, and/or hobbies.
2. We have meaningful relationships – As we age, we shed many of our superficial friendships and spend more of our precious time with people we care about. We nurture our meaningful connections and find value in these fewer, more stable, deep relationships. As careers and family obligations cut into our personal time, we naturally gravitate toward allocating our time to those who we can rely on, trust, and connect with on a deeper level than in our younger years. These meaningful connections carry us through the rest of our lives, and research shows that meaningful relationships lead to healthier, happier lives. This is a time of quality vs. quantity in terms of personal relationships.
3. We care for others without expecting anything in return – That’s right. In midlife, we do things because we want to – not because we have to. We help others because it feels good to do so. We know who are are, we have surrounded ourselves with meaningful people, and this means we have the confidence in ourselves whether in career, hobby, faith, or family, to pass on what we know to others. We give back to the world in three ways: through mentorship, philanthropy and volunteering, giving ourselves a gift far greater than that we gave – a legacy. Midlife, and particularly later midlife, is a time when we feel productive, valued, and fulfilled emotionally as we connect with the world and begin to leave our footprint and legacy.
Midlife is filled with opportunity and emotional growth. Not loss! We are know who we are, have meaningful relationships, and begin leaving our legacy. This period in our lives means we can spend time on what and who matters most to us – and pass on what matters most to us. Go Midlife!