5 Mistakes that Stop People from Finding Happiness After 50

by Margaret Manning

If there’s one thing that I have learned since starting Sixty and Me it’s that happiness after 50 is a choice. You can invest in your health, wealth and happiness. Or, you can let yourself go. You can build a solid foundation for the future. Or, you can accept age-related problems as inevitable.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to miss our own destructive thoughts and behaviors until it is too late. So, to help you get started, here are 5 mistakes to avoid if you want to find happiness and get the most from life after 50.

Trying to Look “Younger”

Many people in their 50s feel a lot of pressure to look younger. Unfortunately, most of the “anti-aging” solutions out there simply don’t work. In addition, spending hundreds of dollars a month on the latest pills and potions damages your financial future, while it erodes your self-esteem.

Does this mean that you should abandon trying to look your best? Absolutely not! It simply means that finding happiness after 50 requires us to accept the aging process as a natural and positive phase of our lives.

So, if you want to look and feel better after 50, stop buying anti-wrinkle creams and start investing in your body. Get in the best shape of your life. Eliminate self-destructive habits that lead to premature aging. Embrace your passions and learn to smile more. These are the only anti-aging therapies you will ever need.

Shopping for Happiness in the Wrong Places

As someone who worked in marketing for most of her life, I know first-hand the tricks that companies use to make consumers part with their money. In today’s media-obsessed culture, it’s easy to believe that buying a new car, television or mobile phone will bring you joy.

Unfortunately, according to science, most purchases won’t make you happy – at least not in the long term. Once the initial “glow” wears off, your happiness will return to normal.

Think back to the last car that you purchased. For several weeks, or even months, you probably drove your shiny new automobile with pride. Every time you opened the door, the “new car” smell reminded you of your smart decision. Then, after a few months, you probably stopped thinking about the benefits of your new car. You may have even started worrying about your car payment or increased insurance. This is a familiar pattern for most consumer products.

This doesn’t mean that there is no connection between money and happiness. You may just be shopping in the wrong places. For example, investing in experiences has been shown to have a greater impact on your happiness than buying “things.” Investments in your health, skills or passions are also worthwhile.

Not Investing in Your Health

When it comes to saving for retirement, our 50s are critical. Unfortunately, most of us look at the word “saving” too narrowly. We assume that all we have to do to ensure that we have a happy and successful life after retirement is to have enough money in the bank to meet our monthly needs.

As many people learn the hard way, there are plenty of other things that we should be investing in once we reach our 50th birthday. One of the most important is our health.

There are several reasons that investing in your health in your 50s is one of the best decisions that you can make. For starters, getting in shape now will give you the energy and vitality that you need to get the most from life in your 60s and beyond. After all, what’ the point of saving your entire life, only to find yourself stuck at home in retirement?

Another, more practical, reason for investing in your health in your 50s is that it can save you money in later life. Health related costs are among the most common reasons that people experience financial hardship in retirement.

Investing in your health and fitness now, it one of the best ways to protect yourself from a health crisis in the future.

Thinking that Making Friends as an Adult is “Business as Usual”

For most of our lives, we are surrounded by other people. In school, we face a constant stream of new faces. In the workplace, we interact with our colleagues every day, whether we want to or not. As parents, our lives are filled with baseball games, BBQs, school meetings and our kids’ sleep-overs.

Making friends as an adult requires a different approach. With our social circumstances changing, we can no longer afford to expect to meet friends “organically.” We need to take control.

The best way to make friends as an adult is to pursue your passions. What have you always been fascinated by? Are there any passions that you abandoned once you became a parent? There is no better time than in your 50s to focus on the activities that make you truly happy. And, if you meet interesting people along the way, so much the better!

Looking at Retirement as a Destination

The concept of a “retirement age” has become woven into almost every aspect of our culture. We are taught to believe that retirement is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is presented as a reward for decades of hard work.

There are several reasons to believe that this concept of retirement is outdated at best – and dangerous at worst. For starters, people are living longer than ever before. For example, a woman who has just reached retirement age has a 54% chance of living beyond age 85. Will your retirement savings last for 20 years?

Just as important, there is the question of whether 2 decades of “aging gracefully” is even desirable. The happiest 70-year-olds I know are the ones who continued to contribute to the world in their own way. They stay socially active. They continue to work, even if they left their careers behind. They see their health as an asset to be protected.

Finding happiness in life after 50 requires us to take a long look at our lives and decide what is important. We need to abandon the idea of staying young forever. We must invest in our health. We need to embrace our passions and let them lead us to new friendships. If we do all of these things, our future will be bright indeed!

What mistakes do you think people make that prevent them from getting the most from life after 50? What investments are you making in your health, wealth and happiness? Please join the conversation.

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