If you’ve passed the half-century mark, I probably don’t have to tell you there can be a downside to getting older. It’s a little tougher to get out of bed in the morning and get moving. Aches and pains begin announcing themselves more frequently. You might occasionally have trouble recalling a name or place or thing you once knew.
Yet, with the negatives of growing older, there also comes an upside. We begin to realize that there’s some truth in the adage “as we grow older, we grow wiser.” We make less “stupid” mistakes and know how to correct them when we do. We learn to choose our battles. We’re more apt to issue an apology when warranted, or to express our gratitude.
In the book On the Brink of Everything, Grace, Gravity & Getting Old, Parker J. Palmer does a fine job of illustrating the benefits that come out of our aging minds and bodies. Parker, who wrote this book just after he turned 80, sees aging as a time of discovery and engagement. In his words, “age itself is no excuse to wade in the shadows. It’s a reason to dive deep.”
To Palmer’s way of thinking, “old is just another word for nothing left to lose, a time in life to take bigger risks.” In other words, a time to continue growing. What follows are his words in bold type, my thoughts follow. See which aspects of growing older you’re now enjoying and what benefits are still to come.
8 Benefits of Growing Older
- You lose the capacity for multitasking but rediscover the joys of doing one thing at a time. This allows you to give the task at hand, or the person in front of you, your full and undivided attention.
- Your thinking slows a bit, but experience makes it deeper and richer. You learn now to better appreciate the moments, like this one, that make up your life.
- You become more aware of the satisfaction found in simple things: a talk with a friend, a walk in the woods, sunsets and sunrises, a night of good sleep. You come to realize that the possessions of life, the big home, expensive car, fancy shoes, are not where true happiness is found.
- Things you once lamented doing, now become part of “a lager weave, without which the fabric of life would be less resilient.” You realize that past mistakes were learning lessons and without them, you would not be the person you are today.
- You become more grateful for those who have helped you. You also learn the joy found in expressing thanks to all who have helped you, past and present.
- You no longer feel the need to prove anything to anyone. You begin to realize it doesn’t really matter, that you are the best judge of you.
- It’s easier to say no to anything that’s not “life-giving.” You learn it’s better to turn down a job you don’t want to do or remove yourself from an unhealthy relationship.
- It’s more about “who you are” than “what you do.” In Palmer’s words, “you get to show up to life as your true, God-given self.” You’re able to more fully realize your own potential and become the person you were meant to be.