I celebrated my 50th birthday last weekend. As the day approached, people kept asking me how I felt about it. Somewhere along the way I started saying I was happy – happy that I was entering “the best half of my life”. From the first time I said it, this answer felt good and felt right to me. I believe it. But how can that be knowing that my body and my mind will inevitably start failing me along the way?
It is so because I have come to accept that life is not all about winning a race. The race is life and it will always be there. We are meant to struggle, to aim for new goals, to try and complete the project, to try and find a new job, to try and get the financing, to strive for that promotion, and to help our friends and families. There will always be another issue to solve, another competition to train for, another crisis to deal with. This is life.
At 40, I assumed that life would get easier and I could finally enjoy it once I solved the current issues. If I could just make more money, I could be happier and be more present in all aspects of life.
At 50, there is still constant struggle and it is not any different than it was before. There are still stresses, there are still many days when I must do things I would rather not do, and there is still a never-ending to-do list. Somehow, though, none of this bothers me like it used to.
Why am I happier? The answer is simple. I have learned to share. I have learned to share my challenges with others because they are often willing to help and almost always willing to listen. I have learned to share my ideas with people and have discovered that they can be inspired by them and want to help make them happen. I have learned to share my feelings with people because they will say and do things that truly make me feel loved and so much better about whatever was bothering me. I have learned to share my time and energy and jump at the chance to help someone else with the challenges they face because it makes me feel I have a true sense of purpose. I have learned to share with people the strengths and goodness I see in them because I see the change in a relationship when you look for the best in someone instead of focusing on their flaws.
The best half of my life is ahead of me because I have learned to be connected to those around me, to run the race with gusto, and to share with the people I love.
And I love a lot more people.
Photo Credit: Getty Stewart