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40 Life Lessons I Learned in My 40s

Updated on January 18, 2017
lawdoctorlee profile image

Ms.Treadwell is a licensed attorney and the author of "How Do Hurricane Katrina's Winds Blow: Racism in 21st Century New Orleans."

Being free, being me.

Enjoying a day at Montauk Point, NY.
Enjoying a day at Montauk Point, NY. | Source

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.
  • 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.

One of our engagement photos taken in El Paso, TX.
One of our engagement photos taken in El Paso, TX. | Source

Life Lessons 1-10

  1. I learned how to live a vibrant and purposed life.
  2. 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.
  3. I learned, after thinking I would never fall in love again, I did.
  4. I learned it does not matter when you get married, what matters is who you marry.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. I learned that I could make mistakes as a parent and still have the love of my children.
  9. I learned that being a grandparent is more awesome than I ever dreamed.
  10. I learned that it is true…money is not everything.

Life Lesson 11: Achievement is not just for the 20-somethings.

Me at my first book signing at Barnes & Noble, Fountains at Farah, El Paso, TX.
Me at my first book signing at Barnes & Noble, Fountains at Farah, El Paso, TX. | Source

Lessons 11-20

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.

Me and G.
Me and G. | Source

Lessons 21-30

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.

Me in awe of the breathtaking setting in the Czech Republic.
Me in awe of the breathtaking setting in the Czech Republic. | Source

Lessons 31-40

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.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wonderful pictures, Liza! You look so happy and that's wonderful to see...and the lessons learned are timeless. Well done!

      bill

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 3 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks so much, Bill. Have a blessed holiday season.

    • GodTalk profile image

      Jeff Shirley 3 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks for the wonderful words of advice. God bless!

    • profile image

      Trudy 3 years ago

      You went through a lot of hell to get the wisdom you have right now. You can't really get these truths without travelling arough road . I'm honored to be your friend and honored you used my photo!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

      Good solid advice. You gave me hope that the best years are yet to come. Somehow, at 28, it often feels like I'm on the downhill already. I just think that it is fantastic that you had a Renaissance in your 40's, wrote a book, learned to love yourself, finished school, and launched a career.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Availiasvision, thank you so much for taking the time to read my hub and for your comment. Ahhhh to be 28 again! No worries, I guarantee you that the best is yet to come. Even better, you'll have the maturity to enjoy it all. Wishing you nothing but the best.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      Wonderfully true, heart warming, and heart breaking. My 30th birthday was also my most difficult as well. Now the birthdays fly by without a thought to their passing. I love my life and that is what is important at any given moment in it. The lessons of the past help us become the person we are today.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      Wonderfully true, heart warming, and heart breaking. The lessons of the past truly do help us become the person we are today. Like yourself my 30th birthday was also my most difficult as well. Now the birthdays fly by without a thought to their passing. I love my life and that is what is important at any given moment in it.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Lorelei, I so appreciate you spending part of your day with me, reading my work, and taking the time to comment. I wonder why 30 is so hard for so many people...maybe it's a coming of age in some way. Definitely, what is important is that you find things to love about life. It's what keeps us all going.

      May the new year bring you and yours many blessings. Wishing you much continued success.

    • Doris Dancy profile image

      Doris H. Dancy 2 years ago from Yorktown, Virginia

      Liza, what a wonderful and inspirational article. There are so many truths in what you have written and for many of them I have spent quite a while learning them for myself. In my novel, Shattered Pieces, I have tried to teach your lessons 5 and 6 through my protagonist, Zack. I love what you have done here, and hopefully, we will review these lessons and keep them close to our mind and heart. One can't hear them too much.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Thank you, Doris, for your time and kind words. So glad you enjoyed this. Funny, even though I wrote this...I come back to this hub regularly to remind myself of what I've learned, particularly, when I'm having a bad day. Honestly, I wrote this is like a letter to myself...so often I need the reminder.

      Wishing you nothing but the best.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 2 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Great read and life lessons. Thank you for sharing! You are an amazing person.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Thank you so much, Fiddleman for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed this hub. Hope the new year brings you many wonderful things.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      7.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 am currently struggling with the impulse to help (once again) my 33 year-old son. Reading this hub (especially #7) encouraged me to let him learn some of those things you have to learn for yourself. As a Mom, it's just not easy to stand by and watch.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Lisa. We do get wiser with age :). I'm in my mid fifties and I consider this the best time of my life. This should be required reading for everyone entering their 40's. It can take many years for us to learn life's most important lessons. I'm so glad that you have arrived at a good place in your life. A great read.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Kathleen Cochran, thank you so much for taking the time to read my work and for your comment.

      Definitely, number 7 was a tough one to learn and accept. I am a mother of three who are now 24, 26, and 28 years old. I know it is not easy to stand by and watch our children make mistakes, fail, and struggle but it is necessary. It is when they overcome life's challenges that they gain insight and self-confidence. Resolving (or trying to fix) our adult children's issues robs them from the necessary learning curve which leads to independence and self-reliance. That doesn't mean we have to completely cut off our children but we do have to really understand the difference between help and the enabling which cripples them. I address this a little more in my hub "How to Create House Rules for Adult Children."

      May the new year bring you many blessings.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      bdegiulio, I am so grateful that you took time out of your day to read my work and to leave a comment. I'm honored by your comment that this should be "required reading for everyone in their 40s." Honestly, I wish we could be born knowing all of this and that it didn't take so long to learn!

      Glad to have your confirmation that we get wiser with age! My mother told me many times how her 50s were the best years of her life. I guess you could say that I am looking forward to that since I will be 50 in two years.

      I hope that the new year brings you many new and exciting things that bring peace and joy to your life.

    • profile image

      Keyon 2 years ago

      And to think I was going to talk to somoene in person about this.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Keyon, thanks for stopping by to read this hub and for leaving a comment. Talking these things out with others can be a great help. Ultimately, it's up to us to learn the lessons, accept them, internalize them, and then project it outwards. Wishing you and yours many blessings.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      you are strong girl! I wish I have your spirit.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image
      Author

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      peachpurple, thanks for stopping by to read this hub and for your comments.

      We are all much stronger than we think. Wishing you many blessings.

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