The fields of Positive Psychology, mind-body medicine, yoga, and the spiritual disciplines offer wisdom—culled from research and centuries of experience—that can sustain our unique over-40 needs. Here are five of these wisdom teachings.
1. Remember that change is possible at any time. Not only is our brain plastic (able to be “remapped” toward greater health, calm, memory, and reduction of pain) but also our thoughts and feelings can be reshaped on a daily basis. We can begin to experience positive transformation within days—a transformation that can be sustained over a lifetime.
2. Focus on the one thing we have control over. Resilient, thriving, and happy people all focus the majority of their energy, attention, and time on the one thing we actually have control over: who we are in the present moment. Those who flourish at any age are those who take the day they have been given, and step into it from the center of their being, asking, “How shall I best respond to this moment in the healthiest, most enlivening manner?”
3. Happiness is a serious business. As we bring forward the two elements of sustaining happiness, pleasure and meaning, we become happier and foster greater generosity toward those surrounding us. Happier people offer more, show up more, have more energy to build houses, serve soup, and attend to the suffering. So, beautifully and paradoxically, it behooves us to nourish our own joy for the sake of the larger world.
4. Mindfulness practice offers us the present of the now. When we cultivate stillness, practice mindfulness, and become better able to respond rather than react, we free our minds from the demons of rumination. We let go of the past and allow the future to remain a mystery. We relinquish the need to control and become calmer, more peaceful, and better able to hear the wisest voices inside of us.
5. Lean toward joy: As we savor joy, our happiness grows. Our sense of life as something worth living expands, even in the presence of strife or pain. Take a moment each day to lean toward something joyful or savor a gorgeous minute and know that in so doing, you’re changing the chemistry of your brain, the expansiveness of your heart, and your capacity to nourish both yourself and others.
Are you approaching midlife? What are you doing to cultivate mindfulness?