40 Life Lessons I Learned in My 40s
Being free, being me.
- that I want healthy, honest, and intimate relationships based on trust, respect, and compassion; and that takes time to develop but they are the only ones worth having.
- success is not defined by status, money, education, career or another person but rather by the level of peace that I have within myself.
- happiness is truly an inside job and that no amount of outside things will fill an inner void.
- I teach others how to treat me by how I treat myself.
- to see things for what they are not what I want them to be.
When Life Really Started
In a few months, I will be 48 years old. It’s not just a cliché, time does indeed fly by. And while in my 20s I would cringe at the thought of being 40-something (I cried uncontrollably on my 30th birthday), I now realize that I am really just starting my life: my own life: one that is not directed by others, one that is not all self-sacrifice.
Like many in my generation, I married young, put off college to raise children, and survived divorce. At 41, I finished law school – a surprise to myself that I could actually do it. When I hit 43, all of my kids were over 20, living life the way they wanted; and I was proud of them. I did my job. I had a big, beautiful home; cars; ate too well; and had plenty of money. But I still felt empty. I could not find my happy place despite all of my accomplishments. All my life, I belonged to someone else: my parents, a man, and then my children. It was time belong to me.
I took my personal inventory, finally, instead of everyone else’s; and that’s when life really started. If you are in your 40s, you can probably relate. If you’re in your 20s or 30s and can relate, you’re ahead of the game. Every day is a new day to start over.
Here is a list of what I learned so far during this enlightening decade.
Life Lesson 3: After thinking I would never fall in love again, I did.
Life Lessons 1-10
- I learned how to live a vibrant and purposed life.
- I learned that success is not defined by status, money, education, career or another person but rather by the level of peace that I have within myself.
- I learned, after thinking I would never fall in love again, I did.
- I learned it does not matter when you get married, what matters is who you marry.
- I learned I cannot be happy if I do not shed the emotional baggage from relationships that hurt me. Do not carry your personal mess around; there simply is not enough room in your new life for it.
- I learned that when I forgive, it is really for me. It has nothing to do with the other person. If you are holding a grudge, release it. You will be a much happier person.
- I learned that 18 years was not enough time to teach my children all they need to know about life. Life is set up that way because there are some things we have to learn on our own to develop true appreciation and self-confidence.
- I learned that I could make mistakes as a parent and still have the love of my children.
- I learned that being a grandparent is more awesome than I ever dreamed.
- I learned that it is true…money is not everything.
Life Lesson 11: Achievement is not just for the 20-somethings.
11. I learned that achievement is not just for the 20-somethings. I even wrote a book!
12. I learned that I was capable of doing much more than I physically thought possible.
13. I learned that I have two ears and one mouth for a reason: listen more and talk less.
14. I learned that I do not know it all and that’s fine with me. No one else knows it all either.
15. I learned that I would rather be healthy alone than sick with someone else.
16. I learned that I want healthy, honest, and intimate relationships based on trust, respect, and compassion; and that takes time to develop but they are the only ones worth having.
17. I learned that 'No' is a complete sentence; and the Earth does not stop when I say it.
18. I learned that expectations are the root of resentments.
19. I learned that unless I communicate my needs and wants, no one will do it for me.
20. I learned that if I cannot read someone else's mind then no one can read mine either.
Life Lesson 21: My girlfriends are priceless.
21. I learned that my girlfriends are priceless.
22. I learned that there is no note at the bottom of a bottle that will fix what is broken in me. I did my work.
23. I learned that no one will want my advice if my own life is a mess. I am an example for others in what to do and what not to do, whether I like it or not.
24. I learned that happiness is truly an inside job and that no amount of outside things will fill an inner void.
25. I learned to stop comparing myself to other people. It is a waste of time.
26. I learned that perfectionism is one big con game. "Perfect" does not exist on Earth.
27. I learned that I needed to break up with perfection in order to find the courage to be me.
28. I learned that fear robs you of your confidence and joy. Push through it.
29. I learned to speak up for myself.
30. I learned that I teach others how to treat me by how I treat myself.
Life Lesson 35: I love who I am, flaws and all.
31. I learned to become my own best advocate.
32. I learned to value myself.
33. I learned to trust myself.
34. I learned to be kind to myself.
35. I learned to love who I am – inside and out, flaws and all.
36. I learned to see things for what they are not what I want them to be.
37. I learned that if I don’t make myself a priority, no one else will either.
38. I learned to be raw, stripped-down, all open with myself – without making excuses, without complaining, and without blaming others for my circumstances.
39. I learned that I am not a victim because Karma does exist.
40. I learned to let go of the things I cannot change and to give it to God.