They say with age comes wisdom. And, as it turns out, they’re right. If you ask virtually any person over 40 their opinion on an issue you’ll get a vastly different answer than you’d get from someone just a decade or two younger. With more than four decades under their belt, they simply view things in a different light than your average 20- or 30-something—and there’s a lot we can learn from their lived experience.
Not sure what we mean? We’ve compiled 40 ways over-40 people view the world differently, from truths they understand about how the world works to what they’ve learned to prioritize over the years. And when you want to make the most of your over-40 life, start with The 40 Best Ways to Conquer Your 40s.
They know how important your health is
At 20, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to opt for fried foods over fresh veggies or to spend more time at your favorite watering hole than at the gym. However, ask anyone over 40 and they’ll tell you that those decisions you make about your health when you’re young can have devastating effects when you’re older, and that once your health starts to fade, it’s hard to get it back.
They know how to laugh at themselves
When you’re first getting your footing as a proper adult, those embarrassments and mistakes often feel like the biggest deal in the world—and certainly no laughing matter. However, anyone over 40 can tell you that those flubs at work, or those horribly bad dates, are well worth cracking a smile about in the long run; in fact, in a few years’ time, it’s unlikely you’ll even remember them at all. And for more reasons to crack a smile, check out these 40 Corny Jokes You Can’t Help But Laugh At.
They understand why saving your money is important
When you’re earning your first paltry paychecks after high school or college, saving seems virtually impossible. Ask anyone over 40 how important it is to start putting away those pennies young, however, and you’re sure to hear that there’s no better way to ensure a healthy financial future, even if that just means stashing a few bucks a week. And if you’re behind on your savings, here are 40 Ways to Seriously Boost Your Savings After 40.
But realize you can’t take it with you when you go
Of course, a huge savings account is hardly the only goal to aspire to as an adult. People over 40 also know that the money they make and save will likely do one of two things: help them enjoy life now, or make it so their great-great-great-great-grandchildren can enjoy the benefits of a sizable trust fund.
They understand the importance of work-life balance
In your 20s and 30s, that big promotion or corner office may seem like the only things worth striving for. Ask anyone over 40, however, and they’ll let you know just how important it is to make even more time for the things you love that don’t have a paycheck attached.
They know that learning is a lifelong pursuit
School may not have been your thing, but that doesn’t mean your education is over. In fact, one of the best ways to make the most of your later life is to continue learning, whether that means picking up an instrument or spending your evenings reading. In fact, research even suggests that participating in something as simple as a crossword puzzle can help reduce your risk of dementia as you age.
And that not all of them are taught in school
Book smarts can certainly come in handy, but as you get older, you’ll realize that there’s more than one kind of intelligence that matters. In the long run, emotional intelligence can be just as big an asset as being able to rattle off everything you read in a book. And for more ways to keep learning, discover the 40 Best Hobbies to Take Up in Your 40s.
They know that a job will never love you back
You may love your job. You may want to work there for the rest of your life. However, if you ask any person over 40, they’ll readily admit that your job is never going to love you the way you love it, and that your dedication and passion for it won’t matter a bit when budgets are being slashed.
And that your family is always more important
Passing up your kids’ soccer games and visiting your parents in the hospital so you can work another late night? Don’t. Anyone over 40 can attest to the fact that there will always be more work to do, but you’ll never get that time with your family—whether biological or chosen—back.
They know that technology that wows us now will be outdated before you know it
That new gadget everyone’s raving about? In the blink of an eye it will be old news. People over 40 have seen enough technology come and go that they know the items being touted as the next big thing will seem outdated in a heartbeat. For proof, here are 20 Once-Useful Technologies You Never See Anymore.
They know that one bad relationship doesn’t mean you’re broken
Think you’re unlovable because that seemingly-perfect relationship didn’t work out? By the time you’re over 40, you’ll have had so many relationships, including those that last a week, a year, or a decade, and will have learned from each one, making it abundantly clear what you actually want—and what you’re glad to do without in a partner.
They know that money makes life easier, not happier
Does money make things easier? Absolutely. Does it make you happier? Most people over 40 will tell you that, beyond paying the bills and enjoying a few extra material comforts, money alone will never make you happy.
They realize that older people have a lot to teach us
We tend to act as though older people are somehow less capable, but doing so is a mistake. People over 40 know that just because someone’s older doesn’t mean they’ve lost the skills or wisdom they spent a lifetime building.
They realize that those little worries go away
Those worries that follow you around through early adulthood? By the time you’re over 40, they’re largely a thing of the past. With enough years under your belt, you’ll have figured out how to take care of your needs without sweating the small stuff.
But the big regrets don’t
That said, those major regrets, like not moving abroad when you had the chance, not trying harder to make a good relationship work, or simply staying in a job that didn’t value you, will continue to stick with you.
They know that this too shall pass
Those earth-shattering moments that you feel like you can never bounce back from? Whether that’s the death of a parent or the loss of a job, people over 40 will tell you that no matter how bad something seems now, it’s just a detour, not an impasse.
They know that other people’s successes should be celebrated
It’s hard to celebrate another person’s success when you’re feeling insecure about your own accomplishments. Luckily, as you get older, you’ll come to realize that other people’s success is in no way a reflection on you, and that those people deserve celebration every bit as much as you will when your moment in the sun arrives.
They realize that wisdom comes from unexpected places
Think wisdom only comes from people with Ph.D.s and published self-help books? Think again. Anybody who’s reached 40 can tell you that, sometimes, the greatest wisdom you’ll receive in life comes from unexpected places, whether that’s a particularly astute friend or a funny kid in your family with a unique perspective on things.
They know that the planet isn’t going to last forever
If you’ve lived over 40 years, you know that our planet is deteriorating rapidly—in fact, you’ve probably seen it get worse during your lifetime. They also know how to be less wasteful.
They realize that bad politicians don’t stick around forever
Can’t stand your city’s mayor? Take issue with your country’s foreign policy? Griping about the governor? While poor leadership may seem like a harbinger of doom today, people over 40 know that politicians don’t stay in office forever, and someday, these bad policy decisions will be little more than a distant memory.
They know how much damage toxic relationships can do
While it may seem important to maintain relationships at any cost when you’re younger, people over 40 know just how quickly a bad relationship can drag you down. Whether it’s a friend who’s always cutting you down or an unsupportive family member, those bad relationships will always do more harm than good in the end.
They know it’s never too late to find love
If you think your chances for finding love and happiness are gone because haven’t found the right person by 30, you don’t know how wrong you are. People over 40 have seen members of their inner circle find the right person at all stages of life, making it clear that there’s no expiration date on finding a partner or happiness.
They know that an unfulfilling job will only hold you back
If you’re only going to work to collect a paycheck, you’ll kick yourself for wasting all that time in the long run. People over 40 recognize that an unfulfilling job will only stall the things you really want to accomplish with your life.
They know that being disliked is better than going unheard
It may feel like a crushing blow to know that someone dislikes you when you’re 20, but when you’re over 40, it just comes with the territory. Ask anyone over 40 and they’ll tell you that standing up for what you believe in, even if it means people don’t like you, is always more important than going against your values.
They realize the value of other cultures’ influence
Think your culture is the only one that matters? Think again. People over 40 have enough experience to know just how rich diversity makes the world, and how much various parts of your life, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat, are already influenced by other cultures.
They know that experiences are always better than things
That luxury car in your driveway or designer wardrobe may make you happy temporarily, but in the long run, experiences always outweigh things. Anyone over 40 will admit that there are few things they own for a lifetime, whereas memories of those exciting vacations and nights out with friends stay with them forever.
They know that relaxation is as important as work
Work-life balance is good, but people over 40 know that work-relaxation balance is even better. Sometimes, you just need to turn off your brain—and you’ll be better for it in the long run.
They realize that morality isn’t just black and white
By the time you hit 40, you know that your view of right and wrong isn’t as black and white as it seemed. As you increasingly appreciate the perspectives of others, you realize that many of the issues you once took a hardline stance on are a lot more complex than you initially thought.
They realize there’s no such thing as a “perfect body”
Having a six-pack may be great, but as you get older, you increasingly see the beauty in all types of people. Someone’s dimples, curly hair, or bright smile are often just as attractive as runway-worthy looks.
They know that friendships aren’t always easy
As you get older and members of your social circle take off for other parts of the globe, it becomes a lot harder to maintain those once-easy friendships.
But the good ones are worth maintaining
However, anyone with enough lived experience will tell you that, no matter how many late-night FaceTime sessions or pricey flights it takes, it’s well worth maintaining those friendships that matter most.
They know that all of our clothing choices will eventually embarrass us
That must-have outfit you spent your whole paycheck on? No matter how cool it looks today or how many likes you get for it on Instagram, rest assured, it will look woefully dated—even embarrassing—a decade from now.
They know that being cool and being successful aren’t the same thing
Ask anyone older and they’ll tell you that being cool isn’t actually a gateway to success. While you may prioritize seeming cool when you’re younger, hard work will always be a more effective path to success.
They know that your bad habits catch up to you
Those bad habits you have when you’re younger get increasingly hard to break as you age. Whether you’re still smoking or tell the occasional white lie, make no mistake: those habits will catch up to you.
They know that prioritizing kindness is better than always being right
Think winning every argument will make you feel like a million bucks? Anyone who’s made it to their 40s can attest to the fact that kindness is a lot more important than always being right.
They understand the importance of tradition
Think your family traditions are too time-intensive to continue participating in? Older people know just how important carrying on the legacy of those who went before us can be and how quickly those traditions are lost if they’re not upheld.
They know that you have to make yourself happy before you can do the same for others
At 20, it may seem like making another person is enough to make you happy, too. However, by 40, you’ll realize that it’s important to find out what makes you happy before you can expect to do the same for others.
They realize that age doesn’t always make you an expert
While some people do get wiser with age, many people just get more stuck in their ways. By the time you’re over 40, it’s pretty easy to see who’s falling into the former category or the latter.
They understand that there’s no time like the present
Anyone over 40 knows that you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to do the things you want to accomplish in life. While teens and 20-somethings may have YOLO tattoos, the over-40 crowd has the lived experience to understand that there’s no time like the present to start living the life you want.
They know that the only constant is change
Just because your life is a certain way today doesn’t mean it will be that way a month, week, or even a minute from now. With more life experience comes the wisdom that the only thing that will remain constant in your life is change. And when you want to make a change in your own life, start with these 40 Ways to Have More Energy After 40.
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