When we talk about an old soul, we tend to mean someone who is wise beyond their earthly years.
Mature, considered and grounded. Their overall energy is a calming one.
But are old souls born that way, or are they made? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
One thing is for sure, certain life experiences become a training ground for developing these sage-like qualities.
1) You’ve overcome hard times
Let’s just cut to the chase:
Wisdom comes from experience. And it’s usually the roughest of rides that end up teaching us the most.
It sucks, but it’s true.
Pain may not be pleasant, but it can shape us in unexpectedly marvelous ways.
When we’ve hurt, I mean really hurt, it can make us far more compassionate, understanding, and considerate towards others.
It helps us to put life in perspective and makes us more appreciative of our blessings and what matters most.
It gives us an opportunity to deeply reflect on our choices, the direction we want to go in, and what makes life worth living.
In the struggle we find strength. During adversity is when we learn resilience.
Leading a charmed life sounds very nice, but old souls are often forged during hard times.
2) You’ve had your heart broken into a million pieces
Continuing with that theme, what hurts more than heartache?
For a lot of us, romance unlocks not only our greatest joys but also, at times, our greatest sadness.
But as the Alfred Tenneson quote goes, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
Because within that wide-ranging scope of emotions, we get a full taste of what it is to be human.
Personally speaking, the painful breakdown of a relationship around 10 years ago was the catalyst for my greatest adventure ever.
One where I left my home, skipped around the world for many years, only to end up living in a totally new country.
So I’ve seen firsthand how loss can transform into brand-new opportunities and growth.
3) You’ve seen through consumerism
I’m guessing most people would agree that meaning is more important than materialism.
Yet a lot of people still go in search of that meaning through the things they buy, own, and possess.
Old souls aren’t necessarily hermits who have retreated to live in a cave. But they have had experiences that have helped them to see through the trappings of consumerism.
They have learned, maybe the hard way, that money doesn’t buy happiness.
You can have all you thought you’d ever dreamed of and still feel deeply dissatisfied.
Robin S. Sharma, otherwise known as ‘the monk who sold his Ferrari’, needed to let go of his grasp on worldly goods in order to feel richer:
“The moment I stopped spending so much time chasing the big pleasure of life. I began to enjoy the little ones, like watching the stars dancing in moonlit sky or soaking in the sunbeams of a glorious summer morning.”
It may be a cliche, but it’s one that old souls have learned is true:
The best things in life really are free.
4) You’ve felt a deep connection with nature
Have you ever watched the setting sun and been almost moved to tears?
Have you ever stood in a forest listening to the wind rustle through the leaves and gotten goosebumps?
Have you ever noticed the vibrant colors of a flower in bloom and couldn’t stop a huge smile from spreading over your face?
Then the chances are you are an old soul.
Because much like our Monk who sold his Ferrari above, old souls are highly in tune with the natural world.
They recognize themselves within it. They do not see it as separate from themselves.
They feel on a cellular level the interconnectedness of all life, regardless of the form it takes.
This helps to give them a deeper respect for it. And it’s usually where they most feel at home.
5) You’ve discovered the peace of solitude
Life is full of distractions, many of which are great fun. But it’s the time spent alone with our thoughts where we really discover who we are.
That can be sort of scary too.
It’s why plenty of people find being on their own tough. They may get bored or lonely.
They would rather seek out distractions than sit with themselves and all the many thoughts and emotions that pass through.
But old souls know the importance of that time and the peace that can eventually come from it.
In the words of motivational teacher and self-help author Wayne Dyer:
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
It’s in our solitude that we can cultivate calmness. It’s also where we can contemplate and gain insights into ourselves and the world around us.
6) You’ve looked past people’s differences to see them on a more fundamental level
Old souls tend to be great at connecting with people from all walks of life.
That’s because regardless of age or background, they are able to align with what unites us, rather than divides us.
This is what makes them such good peacekeepers too. They take a non-judgemental approach and are able to stay open.
They take on board other people’s pearls of wisdom by listening to their life lessons and stories.
Maybe that’s why old souls often gravitate towards older friendships — because they have even more experiences to share.
Either way, you’re more of an old soul if tried to put yourself in other people’s shoes. You look beyond the outer shell to see the striking similarities that we all hold within.
7) You’ve traveled (if only outside of yourself)
I’m a big advocate of travel to help you gain new perspectives.
But having said that “travel” doesn’t have to be around the globe. We can seek out new experiences, cultures, and outlooks much closer to home.
What I really mean is that you’ve left your own little sphere.
You’ve stepped out of your comfort zone to put yourself in unfamiliar places and situations.
You’re not afraid to go out and live your life, without being held back by fear.
That doesn’t need to happen thousands of miles away, it can take place in your own community.
But you’ve gone on journeys outside of what you know and what feels recognizable to you.
8) You’ve gone in search of purpose
Someone I met many years ago whilst volunteering at a horse protection charity in Italy sent me a message this week.
In it, she wrote:
“I recalled that when we met 10 years ago, you were at a stage where you quit your job and started exploring your ideal lifestyle. I did not understand well at that time why you were doing it. Now, 10 years later, I turned 32 this year. I think I am kind of, unconsciously, following your path.”
It’s something I’m increasingly noticing:
People are looking for more from life.
But not necessarily more money, more qualifications, more accolades, or achievements. What they really want is more purpose.
We all want to wake up and feel like we’re living a life that counts. And that yearning can lead us to go on journeys of discovery to try to find out what we want.
Whilst that journey will look different for all of us, we ultimately have the same goal:
Discover what makes life worth living, how we fit into the world, and where real purpose and meaning can be found.
Many people discover that meaning actually lies outside of themselves and is found in others…
9) You’ve given back
One of the biggest things that makes an old soul special is this:
They think more about “we” than they do “I”.
That consideration is at the heart of how they interact and it shows.
It’s so easy to get caught up in our own stuff. I know I am guilty of it more than I care to admit.
To be fair, many of us live in very individualistic societies that teach us to look out for number one.
But when we learn the true art of co-operation we see how our own happiness is intertwined with that of our fellow man.
Giving back may sometimes involve sharing your money or your time. But equally, a big part of it is simply mindful thoughtfulness and attentiveness to those around you.
It’s taking the time to listen, it’s being open-minded and tolerant when we’re tempted to judge, it’s showing patience when we are feeling frustrated.
The old souls of this world want to contribute to making the world, in big ways or small, a better place.
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