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The 5 Main Reasons Being In Your 50s Is So Fabulous

Here's why I'm finally living my best life — and how you can, too.

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Irene Rinaldi
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Recently a friend shared on social media that she’s living her best life in her 40s because she’s more self-secure and at peace with who she is. I commented saying how happy I was for her, and then added, “It just keeps getting better in your 50s!” And my gosh, that’s so true. There are always challenges and hardships that come with any age. I’ve certainly had my own struggles and setbacks, but the 50s have been my favorite years so far.       

I remember turning 40, the age that carries the infamous claim of being “over the hill,” apparently leading to the inevitable downhill slope in the years to come. That hasn’t been my experience at all, and fortunately, our older generations have since dismantled that stigma by hitting the proverbial hilltop in their 60s, 70s and even 80s with their full lives and relentless vigor.       

Of course, there’s no accurate age calculation that predicts when we summit our highest peak in life. There are various circumstances that can direct our trek up as well as the downslide after. Everyone has a different mountaintop age. And although my body isn’t as physically fit as it used to be and clearly shows signs of aging, I’m living at my greatest height, nearing 55. After all the hard climbs and tough falls through my 20s, 30s and 40s, I’m finally living my best life in my 50s, and here are five reasons why.      

Allowing myself a lot more grace 

For most of my life, I’ve been extremely hard on myself. I was constantly critical of every little thing I did and berated myself over any mistake I made. If I failed at something or let someone down, I would crumble into pieces, bemoaning my incompetence, and immediately losing confidence because I lacked strong self-worth. I was punitive and punishing, always pushing myself to do better and be better in every area of my life. Now I’m more forgiving of my shortcomings and flexible with my expectations. I’ve finally learned how to love who I am, despite my faults. I can celebrate my strengths while accepting my limitations with a lot more grace. I really like this kinder, gentler, more merciful me.     

Giving myself permission to rest and relax without regret 

I used to think I had to be productive every minute of the day and certainly couldn’t take a break until everything on my to-do list was done. I felt guilty if I had some fun or simply relaxed, and no matter how tired I was, I rarely rested. Now I relish my naps and down time with no remorse, even when my to-do list isn’t finished. I still feel the need to be productive, because working hard and accomplishing goals brings me fulfillment and joy. But now I allow myself to step back and take breaks when I am tired or stressed. I have grown more aware of what depletes me, as well as what restores me, so I cautiously navigate my decisions to find that balance. This shift in my routine has been so freeing.    

Picking people I want in my life 

It took me decades to develop the wisdom to discern the difference between people who are good for me and those who aren’t. I finally built the courage to let go of unhealthy friendships and set strong boundaries with the more difficult people I decide to keep in my life. As a bona fide people pleaser, this was a rough road of learning the powerful influence others have on my mental health and eliminating those who hinder my happiness. I used to feel obligated to remain in relationships despite the draining dynamics we shared. Now I know how to pick and stick with those who are the keepers. My relationships are based on authenticity and reciprocity, honesty and generosity. I cherish those I choose to have in my life, now more than ever.    

Not letting other people’s opinions define who I am 

I used to worry so much about the opinions of others that I often neglected considering my own. I’ve peeled off the tight grip this once had on my identity and let go of the pressure to be someone I’m not. Although I still care deeply about how other people see me, I’ve learned to not let it consume me. Now I have a much better grasp of my worth, so I don’t get submerged in the current of other voices. I rarely feel the urgency to defend my decisions, or be understood, or explain why I am who I am. I won’t let other people’s perspectives dictate how I feel about myself because I’m finally less dependent on the approval of everyone else. I can actually rely on my own validation, and this new inner strength anchors me in a sturdy security I’ve never had before.   

Replenishing my priorities 

Although parenting never ends, my kids are older and much more independent, allowing me the freedom to achieve things for myself that I haven’t done in years. I’m focusing more on my marriage without the kids at our feet, and this time together has been revitalizing. These years also bring the painful reality that life is much shorter than you think, so I’m nourishing the relationships that are most important to me. I’m savoring the moments with the people I love and will cherish the memories forever. Caring for my aging mother and spending treasured time with my beloved in-laws is a high priority. Every day I have with the people I love is a gift I’ll never take for granted. Many say it’s hard growing old, and in some ways I would wholeheartedly agree. But as I age, I seem to be learning the deepest truth about life: It can be wasted on so many things. And now in my 50s, I think I’m finally figuring out what that really means.