Getting older has been a freeing time for me. I am freer to be myself and I am freed from some things that used to control me.
Because some things are worthy of your attention and concern. Others are not. Spending too much mental energy on the wrong things can move you further away from happiness and contentment. Making these things a priority isn’t just a waste of time. It creates unnecessary challenges in life.
Do you spend your time caring about the things that can make a positive difference? Are you sure? Let’s find out!
Most people care too much about these things:
1. The opinions of others. Do you choose clothes you like or clothes that you think others like? When you chose your last car, did you consider how others would judge you if you drive around in that car? Worrying about the opinions of others can make you miserable and cause you to do and say things that don’t match your values.
When I reflect on when I was younger, I see there were many instances where I tried to hard to please others. I spent too much time trying to fit into the definition of who others thought I should be. No more. And that is liberating!
2. Possessions. There’s nothing wrong with possessions, but it can be a problem when they become an obsession. You’ll never be happy just because you got a nicer car or a bigger house. Have all the possessions you like but avoid making them a priority in your life.
In addition, at this stage in life, many of us are focusing on downsizing, not acquisition. For every item you think about buying, consider whether that item will still be wanted or useful in a couple of years. Probably not.
3. Wealth. Have all the money you like too but avoid making it the most important thing in your life. Pursuing wealth at any cost is a recipe for misery and disaster. Having more money than you need doesn’t really do a whole lot for you.
With young adult children, we have many discussions about money and time. It seems life is a constant balance between the two. If you want a lot of wealth, you will sacrifice free time. If you want a lot of free time, you will less likely have wealth. You have to find the balance that you can live with.
4. The past. It’s done. It’s over. Sure, maybe you messed up. You did and said things you wish you hadn’t. You wasted golden opportunities. It’s just horrible. Join the club. The past is riddled with pain and disappointment. Examine it and learn from it. Make amends where you can. Then push on. There’s a whole life waiting for you.
5. Failure. Caring too much about failure will keep you stuck in a job or relationship that you don’t like. It will prevent you from doing the things you really want to do. It’s a trick that your ego is playing on you. Use the logical part of your brain and overrule this mentality. If you fear failure, you avoid success and happiness.
6. Society’s values. It might be true that a 3-bedroom ranch, a pleasant spouse, two kids, and 9-to-5 is the right path for some, and maybe even most. It doesn’t mean that it’s the right path for you.
● If you want to impress those around you, you might be tempted to follow this basic recipe for life. You might even choose it because you don’t have the courage to choose something else.
● Choose your own path. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with what society wants for you. Be more than just a cog in the machine.
7. Shortcomings. Why worry about them? Fix the ones that can be fixed and forget about the ones you can’t. What other choice do you have? You’re already good enough to do just about anything you want to do. Just get busy doing it instead of looking for an excuse.
Is your attention focused on the right things? Are you too worried about impressing others or acquiring a mansion? Do you care about failure?
There’s only so much time available each day and over a lifetime. By releasing your concern for these things, you’re giving yourself freedom and the room to be happy.
As the days ahead loom fewer than the days behind, it’s a good idea to settle how you will savor them. Do it on your own terms, not someone else’s.