If you want to be happy as you get older, say goodbye to these 5 behaviors

There’s a very good chance that who you once were in your youth is no longer the person you are today.

The truth is that as we age our priorities tend to shift, and our definition of happiness evolves.

General rules to happiness always apply, but with every stage we reach, we are called upon to let go of certain things that may otherwise hold us back.

So if you want to be truly happy as you get older, it’s time to say goodbye to these 5 behaviors.

1) Comparing your body now to what it once was

As I reach midlife, this is something I’ve become all too aware of recently.

In the throws of youth, it’s hard to imagine how your body will naturally change with age. When it inevitably does, it tends not to match up with how we feel on the inside.

As my mom once remarked to me when I was a kid:

“To you, I may look older, but on the inside, I still feel 21”.

Aging can bring new-found joys and wisdom. But let’s not sugarcoat it, learning to let go of our desire to stay physically young forever is a must if we are to remain happy.

That’s not to say that you cannot be healthy and in great shape at any age. It’s important not to neglect our bodies. This has been shown as one of the essentials to happy aging.

But wrinkles along with a few more aches and pains than before are unavoidable.

If we can learn to look in the mirror and find acceptance for all the ways our bodies are changing we are less likely to cause ourselves suffering that gets in the way of our happiness.

There’s no doubt that society puts us under pressure to turn back the hands of time. But perhaps we could all take a leaf out of actress Susan Sarandon’s book, who once remarked:

“I look forward to being older, when what you look like becomes less and less an issue and what you are is the point.”

2) Letting yourself become so settled that you never leave your comfort zone

We should never stop chasing the adventures life can bring, regardless of how old we are.

The world is full of people whose biggest achievements came later in life.

Actor ​​Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his big break until 43. Celebrity chef Julia Childs was 50 before she published her first cookbook. Artist Anna Mary Robertson Moses, began her prolific painting career at 78.

The point is, that life doesn’t stop when we reach a certain age, but we can be guilty of acting like it does.

We often spend our younger years building toward greater comfort and ease for later life. As smart as that may be, it’s not an excuse to stop striving.

Because when we do, life can lose a lot of its joy and momentum. 

I’ve seen it with my own folks. They retired 15 years ago and have barely left the house since.

We should never stop learning and embracing newness. Feeling expansion is key to feeling fulfillment.

That doesn’t mean you have to create a hair-raising bucket list and suddenly start trekking in the Andes. Although that sure does sound like a lot of fun to me.

It can be far more humble. But it’s about constantly asking yourself where there is room for development in your life, and how you can overcome your fears to seek it out.

3) Neglecting the people who are important to you

The presence of meaningful relationships has been proven to be vital to our happiness.

Sure, this goes for any age. But it’s especially true the older we get.

In fact, an 80-year-long Harvard study noted it’s the number one secret to living both a longer and happier existence.

As highlighted in Forbes, good relationships are what keep us healthier and happier, and are crucial as we age.

“Having supportive and nurturing relationships is a buffer against life’s stresses and protects overall health. People with more robust social connections showed lower rates of diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline, and other chronic conditions. The researchers hypothesize that close relationships act as “stress regulators”—they help our bodies calm down and return to equilibrium after being revved up by challenging events.”

Loneliness can be an all too common problem for people as they age.

As the hustle and bustle of our youth begins to settle down we may realize that we neglected the ones we love most.

Our social connections demand time and energy. They need investment. They don’t just happen, we have to make them happen and be proactive in nurturing them.

4) Holding onto grudges

Trust me, it will only make you bitter.

If you are still fuming over that ex who cheated on you 20 years ago it’s still creating stress and suffering in your life to this day.

Life is bound to throw unpleasant things our way. The older you get, the chances are, the more sh*t you’ve had to deal with.

But how you choose to handle it will be the deciding factor in whether it eats away at you or adds to your wisdom.

If you can accept that you cannot change what has already passed, you won’t be held hostage by it.

You can use it as a learning opportunity that catapults you to greater understanding.

It’s possible to find peace and forgiveness, even in the most challenging circumstances. It all starts with the choice to do so, for the sake of your own well-being.

5) Burying your head in the sand

They say that ignorance is bliss, but they’re wrong. It just keeps you in the dark.

We’ve just established that life is bound to throw a few curve balls at us along the way. The sooner we find healthy ways of dealing with things, the better we will fare.

If you choose to turn a blind eye to your problems and your flaws, they won’t go away.

You’re more likely to unwittingly develop unhealthy defense mechanisms that harm you (and others).

It may feel like an optional extra, but cultivating coping strategies to support you through life is essential.

That means never stop working on your self-awareness and cultivating greater emotional intelligence.

It’s about looking out for the pitfalls like negative self-talk, rumination, and avoidance behaviors.

Happiness takes conscious work, and we don’t find it whilst we are busy burying our heads in the sand.

Your best years always lie ahead of you

We never know what’s around the corner. But that means that our happiest years may still be to come.

By bidding farewell to these behaviors, you can pave the way for a more fulfilling life as you grow older.

Happiness is a lifelong journey, and it’s never too late to start making positive changes.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

If you tolerate these 8 behaviors from your boss, you lack self-respect

9 behaviors that give people the impression you’re really insecure