Getting older gets a bum rap. Sure, when you cross the threshold into your 40s, your wrinkles become more pronounced, your hangovers get a little more intense, and your menstrual cycle may start to get a little wacky. But you know what? Putting your youth in your rearview also means you’re wealthier, you let less stuff upset you, and you’re probably in a better place in life where you can have a lot of fun.
And one of the best perks of getting older? Gaining wisdom. You know how to be happy, you know that “new” doesn’t always mean “better,” and you can take bad news better than anyone. Here are some of the things you can only know by reaching your fifth decade. And once you’ve arrived, make sure you maximize your days by reading the 40 Life Secrets You Need After 40.
How to truly love and respect yourself
After all, experience truly is life’s greatest teacher, and it takes years to gain this crucial perspective. Once you’ve been through different types of relationships, experiences and life lessons, you become your truest sense of self; someone who has survived and moved on from even the hardest things life’s thrown at you. And for more on living your greatest decade, brush up on The 40 Foods You Should Avoid After 40.
How to let negative people go from your life
There’s nothing worse than keeping negative people around. When you’re younger, you might feel a sense of loyalty, but once you reach a certain point in both yours and their life, you may come to find that keeping negative energy around is only hindering your overall happiness. Cutting a toxic friend loose isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. In her book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, author Irene S. Levine gives some advice on the matter: “Be clear that you need distance, but avoid getting into specifics. You might say, “I’ve realized I need to take a break from our friendship. I have so much going on in my life right now, and I need to take more time for myself.” Now isn’t the time to try to change your friend or teach her a lesson.”
How to be your most authentic self
Although our younger selves might feel like they are being their authentic selves, it, again, takes years of struggle and growth to figure out who you really are. Once you come to that realization, you can embrace and be that true version of you. After all, you worked hard to get there. Being true to yourself is putting yourself on a path to follow the 100 Ways to Live to 100.
You can have a great time by yourself
When you’re in your 20s, you’re constantly wondering what other people are doing, and relying on others to have a good time. Once you’re in your 40s, you realize that you can have a pretty incredible evening all by yourself at home.
Age is just a number
It might be a cliche, but it is possible to age backwards. Just ask Jane Fonda, who, at 80, looks better, and feels younger, than ever. “I wouldn’t go back 10 years,” she said in 2015. “I was so old at 20. I was ancient at 30. I’m so much younger now.”
What a hot flash feels like
There’s a huge difference between feeling hot and going through a legitimate hot flash. It will feel like the temperature is rising and will only affect the top half of your body. You could even become blotchy, feel heart palpitations, or get extremely dizzy. After it’s over, you may feel a rush of cold. Hot flashes are one of the 40 Ways Your Body Changes After 40.
Stop worrying about what other people think
When asked why she’s happier now than ever, Fonda said, “”It’s like what the hell do you have to lose? What can they do to me now that they haven’t already tried?” When you’re younger, it’s normal to be obsessed with what other people think. But once you get a little older, you realize the only opinion of yourself that matters is yours.
Happiness is all about perspective
Positivity has been determined as one of the personality traits that help you live longer. Too often, people think that happiness depends on external factors: having a nice job, a nice apartment, a nice love life. But research has shown that people who managed to see the bright side of things in spite of the tragedies fare better. “I am always thinking for the best. There is always a solution in life. This is what my father has taught me: to always face difficulties and hope for the best,” one elder in a region of Italy where people regularly live past 90 said.
What you like in bed
Women go through their sexual peak at an older age than men. So while men may know exactly what they need in bed at a younger age, it takes women a little longer to truly theirselves sexually. But once you go through your peak, you’ll be able to clearly explain what it is you need to get off.
What you really don’t like in bed
Again, once you go through that peak in your sexual life, you’ll know what it is you aren’t willing to try or have tried and don’t want to again. There is a lot of value in this type of understanding.
How to put yourself first
A recent wellness report on women found that when asked if they were likely to put their own needs first, only 24 percent of women responded that they would. “It’s second nature for women to put everyone else ahead of [us], but when we do that, our own health suffers. We can’t be our best selves if we are tired, cranky, and miserable. Self-care is our responsibility and our right as human beings,” Dr. Laura Berman, an assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, said.
How to trust your instincts
Women are disproportionately predisposed to suffer from Imposter Syndrome, which hurts them in professional settings. But as you get older, you learn to trust yourself, and your gut, a lot more. When Christina Wayne, former senior VP at AMC, was asked how she knew Breaking Bad would be a great show, she said she “knew because when I read those scripts, I felt something. I didn’t do any market testing or focus groups—I just asked myself, Would I want to watch this?” When you’re weighing an opportunity, make the question that simple: “Do I really want this, or am I doing it for the money or the prestige or because I think I should?'”
Failure is part of the process
When you’re young, you take every failure so close to heart, and you wonder whether or not you’re good enough or “cut out” for the business. When you’re older, you realize that failure is just part of the journey to success, and the old adage of getting back on your horse after falling off is actually true.
That it’s never too late to try something new
Young women might think that they’ll age out of trying something if they don’t try it soon. Older women know that there’s no reason to set an age limit on something you can do—or can’t do, for that matter.
The importance of heart health
Heart health is something that fortunate, younger women don’t have to really think about. But, like menopause, with age, this sort of health issue becomes a more relatable and relevant problem to understand and address.
The importance of family
Ambition has its place. But when you get older, you realize the importance of having strong interpersonal relationships. You don’t need to have kids in order to do that. But research has shown that, all over the world, the regions where people live longer are those where the elderly are surrounded by strong family bonds.
The effects of not wearing SPF
Although the importance of protection against the sun is constantly stressed in today’s society, older women who may have been less diligent are seeing the effects on themselves or friends and family. For more skincare tips, check out the 20 Best Way to Erase Wrinkles.
Never mix drinks
Only nubile novices mix whiskey, tequila, wine, and vodka on a night out into a melting pot of misery that you’ll have to deal with the next day. Drink good alcohol, and stick to the same color liquor.
Nothing good happens after 2 AM
It’s not just the name of a How I Met Your Mother episode. Staying out all night might be fun when you’re in college, or annually on New Year’s Eve, but now you’re wise enough to know that nothing miraculous is going to happen if you stay for “just one more.” You’re just going to drink too much and ending up wasting the entirety of the following day. The joys of middle age involve leaving the bar early with pride.
What it is you truly need in a partner
There are lucky ones that find their life partner young. But a lot of times it can take trial and error to suss out the qualities that you do and don’t need in your partner. Older women find those needs and hone in on them to have successful relationships.
The importance of sleep
2017 sed some real light on how important sleeping is for our well-being and weight-maintenance. When you’re younger, you’re likely to think of sleep as a necessary sacrifice on the altar of fun. But when you get older, you realize just how crucial it is for you to be your best self during the day. No wonder Gwyneth Paltrow is always going on about the benefits of “clean sleeping.”
How never exercising effects your health and body
When you’re younger, your metabolism works a hell of a lot faster and your muscles are general stronger. As you continue to age and this changes, you’ll see the results of how not exercising effects your body.
How to say no
Saying yes to everything is a common mishap amongst young women. Learning how to say no can be a long, hard process, but the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll get what you deserve, including respect from people around you.
How to be self-aware
There’s a lot more practice than you would think when it comes to being self-aware. When you’re younger and someone points out a flaw, you may push it aside and move one. The older you get, you understand how being self-aware can benefit your overall existence.
Every experience is useful.
“Everything we experience—no matter how unpleasant—comes into our lives to teach us something,” Iyanla Vanzant, host of OWN’s Iyanla, Fix My Life, said. “Think about how you may have contributed to the painful experience, or if there was anything you could have done to prevent it. Often we don’t realize the lesson because we’d rather avoid reliving the pain. But once you allow yourself to reflect on the sadness, anger, guilt, or shame you’ve been hiding, those feelings will begin to subside.”
When not to take yourself so seriously
There’s a time and a place for everything. Although the office is a good place to take yourself seriously for colleague’s respect, there are other times when taking yourself seriously only harms you. You’ll find the right time and place for it.
That hobbies aren’t useless
Just because it doesn’t pay actual money, doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable. Hobbies are part of what makes up a well-rounded life. After all, you should work to live, not live to work.
That it’s important to have faith in people
This doesn’t mean that you have to trust everyone. But having a bit of faith in others will make life experience that much sweeter. Plus, sometimes all those people need to be their best selves is a little faith.
How to embrace change
Changing is part of growing. It’s hard to develop a strong sense of self if you’re unwilling to step out of your comfort zone every now and again.
Relationships take work
It’s easy to get swept up in the idea of a Disney-style romance in your youth, but once you’ve been around the bend a few times, you know that relationships are hard and take a lot of work. Sometimes, as with Kristen Bell and Dax Shephard, it means going to couples’ counseling and always keeping track of how you’re making the other person feel.
Love is in the little things
If you have been married for a while, you’ll know that love isn’t about grand gestures or racing up the Eiffel Tower at midnight. It’s about little gestures, like making a cup of coffee in the morning without asking, or helping your son with his homework so your spouse can get to work on time, as outlined by one viral blogger.
How to Behave on Dates
Being single in your 40s is considered a bummer. But the truth is, you’re more likely to know what it is you want from your partner, and more likely to have shed a lot of the annoying behavior you espoused when you first started out.
The importance of taking photos
No matter what, there’s always something to be taught through an experience, good or bad. As you age, you’ll look back at some things you’ve learned and realize you probably couldn’t have learned them any other way.
That it’s okay if you aren’t who you expected to be
As long as you’re a good person, who cares if you have a smaller job or decided you don’t want the family you thought you did. That’s part of growing up and learning about yourself.
That losing weight won’t automatically make you any happier
How you look does not define who you are, this include wrinkles, hair, and weight. This can be a hard ideal to get over. But once you’ve seen what your body can do, you won’t ever think being a certain weight is the key to happiness.
That there’s no such thing as a perfect life
Not just life, but nothing is actually “perfect.” Everyone has their hardships and struggles, not to mention, perfection can be defined in so many different ways.
Self-doubt isn’t always right
Although you should trust your instincts, most of the time self-doubt is just a disguise for fear. Overcoming an obstacle you’re afraid of will only make it better when you come out the other side.
Don’t do anything out of fear of laziness
As Maya Angelou once legendarily said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
That you should always have empathy
Experiencing empathy is incredibly valuable. It helps you see the world through a broader, more understand perspective. After all, everyone’s feelings are relevant and meaningful.
That it’s never the end of the world
It may seem like it in the time, but once you or close ones have been through serious struggles and hardships, you’ll come to understand that you’ll always come out the other end. That’s what having life lessons and strong support systems in your life are all about. And for more ways to master your golden decade, don’t miss the 40 Biggest Myths About Life After 40–Busted!
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!