Life after 60 is a time for reflection and renewal. It can also be a time for recommitting ourselves to our core values and exploring life with a renewed sense of purpose. As I talk to the other members of the Sixty and Me community, I find that most women believe that the best years are still to come – if we make good decisions today.
On some level, we all know that the secret to longevity and happiness after 60 isn’t found in the latest pills and potions that the “anti-aging” industry pushes at us. The best tonic for longevity is to live well – to surround ourselves with good friends, new experiences, healthy food and worthwhile dreams. But, if you are feeling a bit apprehensive about life after 60, you may be looking for some more specific advice. After all, we all know what makes us happy, but, knowing how to make ourselves happy is another matter!
Based on my conversations with the women in our community and the many interviews that I have organized with happiness experts, I would like to offer some specific advice for getting the most from the best years of your life. This is your time. It is a time to dream, explore and create. So, here are 3 suggestions for how to get the most from life after 60.
Many women over 60 struggle with a feeling of being “invisible.” It seems like, when we reach our 60s, society expects us to “age gracefully.” It’s almost as if the world thinks that we no longer have anything to contribute. In fact, this is one of the biggest myths about women over 60.
The truth is that women of our generation have so much to contribute to the world. The happiest women that I know in their 60s (and beyond) are helping their communities through mentoring, community service, political activism and more! Most are supporting their families and many are returning to school or starting businesses.
Volunteering doesn’t just make the world a better place. Psychologists have shown that helping others is one of the best ways to increase your own personal happiness. It’s also a fantastic way to get out of the house and meet new people. Whether you’re spending time with your grandkids, or mentoring young people in your community, “giving” is one of the best ways to get the most from life after 60.
Many women have mixed emotions about turning 60. On the one hand, there is so much to look forward to. On the other hand, it’s natural to feel a bit lonely now that the kids have moved away from home and your full-time career maybe winding down. If this sounds like you, it’s time to focus on enjoying your freedom with a new sense of purpose.
For most of our lives, we find ourselves dreaming of having “more time.” Now that we have it, it’s up to each of us to make the most of it. So, ask yourself a few simple questions. What have you always dreamed of doing? Is there something wrong with the world that you would like to fix? What activities make you the happiest? What is holding you back from spending more time doing the things you love? What one thing could you do today to take a step towards your ideal life after 60?
If you are like most women, you may find that the biggest barriers to finding happiness after 60 are in your head. This is why staying positive is so important. When we approach life with a sense of optimism and purpose, all of the small things fade into insignificance.
But, how can you develop a positive attitude? Isn’t our personality something that we are “stuck with?” Not at all! At the same time, I can guarantee that you won’t change your thought patterns through force or will or deep contemplation. The best way to become more positive is to take small steps every day to increase your engagement with the world.
You can start by staying social. Enjoy the company of your friends and grandchildren. Meet for regular lunches with the people you care about. Put your social appointments in your calendar and make them something that you look forward to.
As you deepen your relationships with your existing friends and family, don’t be afraid to reach out to new people. Find a few places where you feel comfortable and start conversations with strangers. Really listen to what they say – sometimes the greatest changes in our own perceptions come when we try to see the world through the eyes of others!
Another activity that can help you to develop a positive attitude is exercise. Not only does getting in shape give you more energy, but, it also releases brain chemicals that can help to keep your emotions in balance. So, sign up for a yoga class (or even better, you can do gentle yoga at home!), ride your bike, go swimming, or try weight training. The better your body feels, the more positive your mind will become.
The happiest women that I know are all lifelong learners. They explore life with a sense of curiosity and take pleasure in each new discovery. Our generation has so many opportunities to learn. In fact, with so many online courses, free audiobooks and events available, there is no excuse for being bored (or boring for that matter) in your 60s!
For example, with Academic Earth, you can take free college courses on your computer. The classes are from some of the world’s top universities and cover more topics than you could learn in a lifetime. Best of all, you can explore these courses from the comfort of your living room. Just grab a cup of tea, get comfy in your pajamas and explore the wonderful world around you.
Do your grandchildren speak a different language than you? Or, do you perhaps want to get more from your travel adventures? There’s never been a better time to learn a second language. One of my favorite programs is Duolingo, a FREE language-learning app that helps you to learn French, Italian, Spanish or German. With Duolingo, you can work at your own page and earn fun little virtual “prizes” along the way. Learning a language is also one of the best ways to keep your brain healthy after 60, so, why not give it a shot?
Speaking of languages and travel, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not go on an educational tour? For example, Road Scholar offers educational programs in all 50 U.S. states and 150 other countries. In addition, many university alumni associations offer faculty led tours, where you can explore another country’s history, culture and cuisine in a stimulating environment.
No matter what your passions are, dedicating yourself to lifelong learning will help you to get the most from life after 60.
Ultimately, life after 60 should be about sharing, giving, loving and creating. We have the power to build the lives we want, at any age, and there’s no better time than right now!
What do you think is the best way to get the most out of life after 60? Please leave a comment and let us know.