This week, we’re talking about Midlife — that fun and potentially funky moment when you realize you might well have fewer years ahead of you than you’ve already put behind you.
It’s a clarifying moment for many, and a moment of crisis for others. A moment when we realize that we may not have lived our own highest choices up until now — and that if we’re going to make the rest of our lives more the way we’d like them to be, this is the time to make that happen.
In the midst of all of this is the anxiety about getting older, looking older, being seen as just plain old in a culture that glorifies youth and youth-centric standards of beauty. And then, of course, there’s our mortality to consider.
So here, we talk about what middle age means to us, and the meaning our society has ascribed to it — cliches, stereotypes, prejudices and all.
We explore the assumptions we’ve had to challenge, and the gifts we’ve only begun to unwrap.
Dallas shares his view of life past 40, and Pilar shares her view from the other side of 50, which is looking pretty darn good to her.
Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you more fully appreciate — at any age — the years you’ve lived into while also making the most of the years you have left to embrace.
“Midlife” Episode Highlights
- Appreciating that every day of our lives is precious, regardless of our age
- The “midlife crisis” as a directional change and a natural phase of the expansion-contraction cycles of life
- Our cultural failure to value the depth of experiences on the other side of youth
- Pilar’s Healthy Deviant take on the Amplified Awareness of midlife — recognizing that we’ve spent years trying to conform to our society’s Unhealthy Default Reality and that it doesn’t work for us
- Seeing that the images and ideals we’ve been chasing aren’t really who we are, accepting that without self-blame or shame
- The ways our pursuits of pleasure and purpose change as we age
- The shifts in Dallas’s life as he enters his 40s
- Why investing in your self-understanding can help ease you through directional changes
- The grief — and opportunities — associated with entering the autumn and winter of life
- The unanimous response of women in Pilar’s circle saying that life is improving with age
- Dallas’s Four-Season Solution take on neurochemical motivators: The dopamine of spring, adrenaline of summer, and serotonin of autumn
- Understanding that our culture doesn’t educate us on the pleasures of later life, and finding your own information on aging well
- Overcoming the inertia of societal expectations and old patterns, and our fear of change
No matter your age, imagine the middle of your life. Ask yourself what you’ve learned and experienced in the first half of your life that you can distill and carry forward into the second half. What is valuable?
Find a person who models for you a successful second half of life. It could be a good friend, an acquaintance, a public figure or a fictional character. First ask yourself if you’ve invested attention in looking for models of middle age and beyond, or if you’ve exclusively admired people who embody success in the first half of life. If you don’t have an older role model, find someone. They are out there.
- Pilar’s “Are You a Healthy Deviant?” quiz. Share your score on your social media feeds and tag #healthydeviant
- Our episodes on “Dying”, “Purpose vs. Pleasure” and “Aging Gracefully”
- From The Atlantic magazine: “How the Midlife Crisis Came to Be”
- Poet and philosopher David Whyte’s reflections on Courage
- From Experience Life magazine: “The Happiness Curve” and “Rekindling Your Fire”
- From Pilar, “Getting to Know You” — a way-back letter from 2008, referencing the work of Richard Leider, including his classic book on living well at every age, Repacking Your Bags
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