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Seven Things You Can Do To Really Enjoy Midlife

When I’m Sixty-Four

What did I think sixty-four would be like? Honestly, I didn’t consciously think about it. Over the years, I kept moving forward, living my life in the best way possible, despite all of the trials and because of all the wonders of life.

Today I turned 64, and it happened without me giving it much thought.

Is age just a number? No. It’s much more than that — especially if you want to age well.

No one wants to get old, but we all want to live a long and healthy life.


Here are things I’ve learned along the way to 64 years that keep me un-focused on my actual age:

1. Remind yourself daily: life is a gift. Nothing is promised. Enjoy what you’ve got right now. I practice gratitude each night — in a special notebook, I write three things for which I’m grateful — even if they’re seemingly minor.

Research from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center describes gratitude as:

“social glue” that fortifies relationships — between friends, family, and romantic partners — and serves as the backbone of human society.

Sometimes it’s as simple as making the best of a bad situation.

2. Quit wallowing. Or complaining. Or focusing on regrets. Let it go. You cannot change the past. But you can change your future.

Focusing on the negativity of the past will do nothing for you except zap your energy. Besides, who wants to be around a negative Nellie?

In the last few years, as both of my parents and sisters passed away, I spent a fair amount of time in what I call RegretLand. What should I have done? What should I have said? If only I did…

RegretLand is not a destination you want to spend time in. All regretting for me did was make me feel worse.

Instead, I learned to focus on the people and situations around me today. I think about: How can I show my appreciation to people that mean something to me? How can I make a difficult situation better?

3. Seek out new adventures. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Figure out how to get it done. Just because you’re 50, 60, or 70 or more doesn’t mean life is over.

A few things I’ve done after the age of 50: at 52 — finished the New York Marathon under goal time (and with a broken foot — don’t recommend that part); at 54 — got a Master’s degree (while I was working full-time); at 59 hiked rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon (only a year after experiencing near-death medical procedures); at 63 — my first book was published. And I’m working on a second.

Plus, I have a full-time job. I write early in the morning, at night, and on weekends.

Every single day the same amount of time is available to all of us, whether we’re 24 or 64.

4. Take care of your health. If you’re relatively healthy today, count your blessings but don’t take them for granted.

See a doctor and dentist regularly. Get tests done — colonoscopy, mammograms for women, the prostate exam for men, DEXA scan for osteoporosis, and have a dermatologist check for skin cancer.

If you’ve got health insurance, you’re fortunate. Use it proactively — you’re much more likely to enjoy the second half of life.

Exercise. Don’t talk yourself into thinking that taking your dog for a leisurely stroll around the block is enough exercise. Get your heart rate up. Do some cardio 3–4 times a week.

Exercise is probably one of the most important things you can do to ensure you age well.

I started running when I was 42 — before then, I despised running. I ended up making some wonderful lifelong friends and even coaching a running group at AustinFit.

Exercise, particularly cardio, can change your outlook on life. When I feel depressed, something amazing happens when I go out for a run or workout on a bike. In just twenty minutes, life gets better. Keep making friends with your endorphins.

Eating & Smoking. You know what to do. Eat right, and don’t smoke.

Drinking. More research has come out about drinking and how — even a single glass of wine with dinner nightly can harm your body. Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, a member of EatThisNotThat medical board, says, “You don’t need to drink every day, and less is probably best.”

If you want to stay as sharp as possible as you get older, then it depends on what you do today with your body. Goodbye, nightly glass of red.

5. Unretire. If and when you retire from a job or career, continue to do something. The key to living a meaningful life and aging well is to do something — particularly something to help someone else. Volunteer, go work part-time at the library (or join a protest against book banning), or become a mentor. Take an art class. The exciting thing is there are all kinds of things you can do.

We all need a purpose. The world needs your special talents. Continue to find your purpose no matter your age.

6. Exercise curiosity. Yes, I know you already know a lot. You’ve lived 50+ years. I have my own know-it-all qualities, but still, I’m always asking questions.

You may even be wise, but you still don’t know everything. Ask questions, and learn something new. Read diverse topics.

Be comfortable with technology. For Pete’s sake, you don’t need to be a Luddite just because you’re 64. My dad, at 93 years old, was FaceTiming me from his iPad.

How many summers do I have left?

Recently I heard an interview between Maria Shriver and singer and former Wonder Woman Lynda Carter. Lynda talked about looking at life in terms of how many summers we have left.

When you think about life using the summers-left framework, it puts a different spin on getting older. You know how fast the summers fly by.

Lastly, number seven, keep socializing. In-person. Talk on the phone. Interacting online isn’t enough. Loneliness is a real issue as we get older. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in ages. I can assure you that they’ll want to hear from you. Make a new friend.

We still need you when you’re 64.


Lisa Zuba

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