3 Reasons We’re More Joyful at 60 and Beyond

by Marcia Smalley

A lot is being written these days about the joy we’re finding at 60 and in the decades beyond. But is this counter-intuitive? After all, our lifetime is winding down, we’re facing a lot of endings, and our next chapters are undeniably shorter than our first.

So why all the joy?

I discovered three Joy Factors that may hold the key. While these may not ring true for all of us every day, there’s no denying the overall impact they have on our “joy meters” as we navigate this stage of life. Here are 3 factors that allow us to be more joyful at 60.


Confidence springs from more self-acceptance and less concern about pleasing everyone else.

At 60, we know how far we’ll bend without breaking; how far we can push and be pushed. We know when enough is enough.

With this level of self-knowledge, we can speak our truth without offending. We can say yes and mean it from the heart. We can say no and mean that, too.

We’ve stopped keeping our voices down, sometimes after years of being silenced. And we’re self-assured enough to take a few risks. If not now, when?


A true sense of freedom comes from within. Yet outside circumstances also give us permission to fly a little.

It can feel like a weight has lifted when we leave a long-time job or career, especially if we’ve planned for that change.

Once our children are on their own, we can unburden ourselves from the responsibilities of raising a family… or at least empty out a few rooms in our houses. Many say that financial security also gives them a sense of freedom.

Freedom shows up in other ways, too.

We may no longer need to set the alarm clock every night. We move through our days in our own rhythm. We unabashedly enjoy our grandchildren, usually with a freedom we didn’t feel when we were bringing up their parents.

Many women express being less concerned now about what other people think about their decisions, their outward appearance or their lifestyles. This can be the most freeing feeling of all after years of “compare and despair” when we calibrated our accomplishments against those of our peers.


Being alive means we have to make choices, some of which are difficult. As we age, we may think we have no choice about some things, such as failing health or financial hardship.

But being “at choice” feels like we have options. And that’s empowering.

Sometimes we make the best choices we can in light of our circumstances, like whether our health will permit us to travel or if we should allow our adult child to move back in with us. Sometimes we’re able to choose willingly, like whether to move to a new community or to retire.

We’re more inclined to choose invitations that make us smile and to decline those that make our stomachs hurt. We’re choosing to learn new things and to have new adventures. We’re seeking out people who lift us up because we’ve stopped making idle chit chat and started engaging in more soulful conversation.

At 60 and beyond, we’re more tuned in to which choices are best for us. We’ve learned how much exercise is enough, how much togetherness is too much and when to make time for ourselves to renew and reflect.

We know which choices nourish us even if we’re in dis-ease or our circumstances are stressful.

Whether we choose something we’ve always wanted or choose to make the best of an unfortunate situation, being at choice contributes to our happiness.

At 60 and beyond, we’re living in ways that sustain us… mind, body, and spirit.

I’m reminded daily about the gifts of Confidence, Freedom and Choice that come in this season of life. Even on those days they don’t feel as prevalent, I give thanks for the days when they are.

And that brings a whole lot of joy, too.

Are you enjoying life after 60? How are you welcoming the gifts of Confidence, Freedom and Choice as you’re aging? Join the conversation!

Let\’s Have a Conversation!

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