Researchers who study life happiness consistently find that happiness dips in your 50s, as you struggle with teenage family members and elderly parents. These same experts also find that 60 to 69 is often the happiness decade of people’s lives! You still have your health, you are financially stable, and you no longer have to contend with teenagers or elderly parents. It’s a new phase in your life.
As a middle-age person our lives all too often revolve around work anxieties, difficult family members and relationship problems. By the time we hit 60 many of these issues have resolved – one way or another! One in three marriages ends when children grow-up, and that is okay. You can still conclude it was a good marriage, but it just isn’t meant to see you into old age. Many people are relieved when their kids leave home and they can call time on their marriage. Some of us will re-marry, others will just enjoy being single and carefree again!
Another reason your sixties are so enjoyable is because you work less in paid employment and are able to volunteer and do what you really like. Maybe you will be putting in time at a koala sanctuary or the historical society, but it is what you choose to do – not what you have to do.
People in their sixties are also still active physically and have more time for their pursuits – which of course range from surfing to ballroom dancing, cycling to pole dancing!
You are super confident
Another joy about ageing is that you have even more self-confidence and are finally totally liberated from what people think of you, and you no longer have so many ‘roles’ to play. You don’t have to be the dutiful mother picking up your child from school or the dependable worker in the office. Basically you just get to be YOU and of course that makes people more courageous! That means you can try new things because you just don’t care if you are really bad at them. You can play golf and suck at it, and laugh it off. As a middle-aged person, your pride may have been dented. As a 60-something, you just smile and have another go at missing the golf ball.
I recently saw the results of a British National Statistics survey. It found that 70 per cent of people over 60 weren’t bothered by what others thought, 59 per cent lived for today and not tomorrow, and 42 per cent say life is more exciting than ever before. Doesn’t that make you feel good? If you’re not yet there, just think how happy you will be when you turn 60!
Ageing is not a curse
People think ageing is a curse, but anyone this side of 60 will tell you that it is a blessing. We know that with age comes wisdom. You no longer make as many silly choices. Last year there was a photo competition in Britain called Ageing: the Bigger Picture. Two themes came out. The first was social connection, for example the joy of grand-parenting and being with friends. The second major theme was that with ageing comes a carefree enjoyment of life. People can just be themselves.
Maybe we are falsely led to believe that getting older will be miserable, but when we turn 60 we discover the exact opposite. In our 60s we can still be physically fit, creative, active and adventurous.
Here are some tips for enjoying your 60s.
1. It’s never too late to embrace a healthy lifestyle
You may never have exercised, however you can begin in your 60s! Weight training, swimming and walking are all wonderful ways to improve your health. It is also a good idea to clean up your diet. Eat your fruit and veggies and exercise for at least 2.5 hours every day. Don’t let your body retire when you do. Now you have the time to focus on your health. Lose weight, go to the gym and buy a membership to your local swimming pool. Make a plan for your body during retirement. Keep your body busy and active. Not only will you feel better, but you will likely live longer.
2. Have an active sex life
Sex is not just for young people. You can keep having sex your whole life, providing of course you have a partner who feels the same way! A healthy sex life can actually increase your life expectancy. Don’t be shy and talk to your GP about any issues that may impede your sex life.
3. Exercise your brain
To ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s keep you brain busy. Do puzzles, jigsaws, learn a language. Go to classes, learn new skills – carpentry, flower-cutting, ice sculpture. You may not be working full-time but that doesn’t mean you can stop learning! Don’t fall into a boring routine.
4. Embrace ageing
Researchers say a positive attitude can add some seven years to your life expectancy. Many people dread aging but then discover being 60-something is quite wonderful. Remember all the positive things about ageing like wisdom and having more time to focus on your spiritual growth. Make a list about how wonderful it is to grow older.
5. Understand what your doctor prescribes you and why
Not understanding your medications can increase your risk of death. Research has found that patients who do not ask questions or do not understand their medical conditions or medication management are at an increased risk of complications. Ask your GP why they are prescribing that medication, what the side effects are, and if there is a natural alternative. Also do some online research. And remember to keep on top with all recommended medical tests for your age group. I’m talking blood pressure, cholesterol, smear tests, prostate – the works!
6. Get out amongst it
Just because you are not working full-time doesn’t mean you get to hide from the world. Keep up your social life. Make a plan for getting out and being with people on a regular basis. Social contact can improve health because interacting with people helps you manage emotions, stress, and is just straight out fun.
The experts consistently say that 60 to 69 are the best years of many people’s lives. I say get out there and make sure you have the time of your life!
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ABOUT PAT MESITI
Pat Mesiti is a best-selling author, coach and educator in the area of personal development. Having built some of Australia’s largest people-driven organisations, Pat understands the power of harnessing human potential. He has shared the stage with some of the world’s great business minds and has sold over millions of copies of his books and materials.