Facts about Midlife Wisdom

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Restlessness, boredom, physical and emotional changes, a lack of creativity and/or a sense of something looming on the horizon is often signs of a midlife crisis. I call them the readiness signals that tell you to begin a journey to midlife wisdom which happens by traveling seven important pathways.

Mental mastery

Mastery is your ability to capitalize on your accumulated knowledge and experience to solve problems.

Conscious attention to the details of your life will lead to better judgment in problem-solving. However, experts say that today we are bombarded with information at 1,000 times the rate our grandparents were.

We decide which of these bits of information to notice or ignore in the first place but most of us don’t realize that we’ve overdeveloped this skill because we’ve done a lot of selective not noticing by midlife.

Helpful- To become more aware of the details in your life, ask yourself these questions at the end of each day…

•What did I learn today?

Be specific. Write down what you accomplished, what you thought and said. Recall any new skill or understanding you acquired.

• How did I learn what I learned?

This will help you pinpoint how you learn best and most naturally.

•How can I increase the use of this type of learning in my everyday life?

If you find yourself learning through reading, consider expanding your reading to other areas

Physical vigor

There are two reasons that people who are between the ages of 35 and 65 must tune in to how they feel about their bodies…

  • The physical component of your journey is intricately tied to all the other components. Your mind, emotions and relationships cannot be at their peak if your body is not functioning at least near its best.
  • Much of what upsets mid lifers can be fixed or improved upon.

These simple habits can have a powerful impact on your physical and mental well-being…

  • Eat breakfast daily.
  • Avoid snacking.
  • Maintain your ideal weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Sleep seven to eight hours a night.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • If you drink, drink moderately.

Emotional vitality

To remain emotionally healthy, you must be able to recover from past and present disturbing situations and enrich your connections to people and events.

I’ve found that during the first half of life, experiences of joy usually emanate from events that go your way.

During the second half of life, however, emotionally healthy adults are capable of experiencing true joy despite the bad things that might happen to them. We lose the grandiosity of youth that says we can and must be the force at the center of life.

Unfortunately, most of us have little emotional training before midlife, so we have trouble responding competently to anger, pain and fear.

Helpful: Write down what disturbs you about an experience for which you would like to have a different emotional response. Recall childhood experiences that triggered similar negative feelings. How did you react? Feel the pain of not expressing your feelings as a child. Feel compassion for the child you were.

Interpersonal effectiveness

Interacting well with others requires that we be able to establish caring relationships and unify the strong and sensitive aspects of our personalities.

Example: Are you happy when you give someone a gift? For mature, adults, the satisfaction of giving a gift far outweighs the thrill of receiving one. In fact, experts call this altmism the hallmark of maturity and the foundation of satisfying relationships.

Many mid lifers have problems stemming from a lack of this altruistic development. Some couples have lost their ability to reach out to each other in truly compassionate ways. Or parents don’t know how to be compassionate toward their teenage children.

Helpful: Select a person you feel is an adversary. Write down traits you admire and traits you loathe. Then write a few sentences about your adversary as though you have no feelings toward him/her. Be objective and detached.

Reflect on the admirable, negative and neutral traits you assigned to your adversary. Pretend you’re getting to know this person for the first time.

Watch for insights as a result of your more balanced view. Once you have achieved emotional distance from this person, try approaching him anew, emphasizing the attractive and neutral traits over the negative. You’ll see your former opponent’s viewpoint more clearly.

Exceptional competence

We need to perform complex tasks, assume leadership and mentor roles and contribute significantly to the world based upon our talents and desires.

By the time we hit midlife, we’ve become good at tasks we have performed for years. Use this competence to free your time and attention and get focused on the important goals of the second half of your life. It is a time to confirm or readjust priorities and develop a vision, as you did when you were young.

Important: Do not compare your successes and failures with those of others. This will deflate or inflate your view of yourself unnecessarily. You will underestimate the value of what you have done, or you may end up with a false sense of superiority that will squelch your motivation.

Spiritual serenity

Midlife spiritual anxiety is exceedingly normal. If we don’t struggle to find more satisfying answers to age-old questions about life and our mortality, we risk facing old age with fear and anger as our main companions. Helpful…

• Come to terms with life.

Our mortality is less frightening when we feel we have made the most of our lives.

•Give in to feelings about your mortality

Crystallizing your feelings can lead to a clearer sense of life purpose and a greater degree of life satisfaction.

Personal integrity

Being happy with yourself and your work requires personal integrity, an integration of the many parts of your personality working together as one cohesive whole. People with personal integrity don’t act one way at work and another way at home. They have the same standards of honesty, behavior and emotional response wherever they are.

Strive to bring out the best in yourself and others. Remind yourself to help others who need help, and be generous with your time and energy. Your reputation and enthusiasm will soar.

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