You wake up one day, and suddenly you’re old.

Well, not exactly.

Ask me my age, and I’ll tell you I’m 52 going on 29, at least in the way I feel.

Yet I proudly wear my 52 like a badge of honor. It’s taken me 52 years to get here!

Maybe it has something to do with my father dying at 54. It changed my perspective and gave me insight as to what young really means.

Do I want to go back and be 29 again? Never. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be the best me I can be at any age.

I’m not 29, nor do I want to be. Because at 29, I thought differently. I was a different person. Now in my 50s, I:

Think Beyond Myself
As a child, the world revolved around me, myself, and I. That doesn’t change much as you move from your teens to your twenties.

We live in a world where we orbit around what we’re doing. We share everything. Every trouble we have is uniquely our own.

Accept it isn’t.

Growing up, my parents’ idea of a vacation was visiting their childhood homes in the Midwest. I didn’t see an ocean until I was 22. How do you escape the me, myself, and I thinking if you haven’t seen what else exists in the world?

Moving beyond self-thinking requires consciousness. By raising your awareness – your consciousness – you’ll begin seeing the brilliance of all the world has to offer. You can raise your consciousness by:

  • Being creative
  • Expressing yourself through art
  • Meditation
  • Visiting different countries
  • Friending different cultures
  • Exploring the world through movies, books, and publications
  • Always asking “what if?”
  • Act out of love instead of out of hate

With age comes wisdom and the ability to start asking more questions while at the same time not giving a damn about what anyone else thinks about your answers.

Stop Accepting What Is
The American Dream touts all that’s wrong with our world. It dictates the way we’re supposed to live our lives. Go to school. Get into a good college. Get a good job. Get married. Have kids. Buy a big house. Buy lots of stuff. Struggle throughout your life. Retire. Die.

Okay, maybe I added the last few myself. But they are today’s reality. What part of the American Dream is still a good thing? The part where you’re pushed throughout school to do BETTER to the point it causes anxiety? The part where they preach exactly what you’re supposed to study – STEM and only STEM? The part where a good school means hordes of debt that will take decades to pay? The part about where you have to stay with a job to afford your lifestyle, one you created because they assured you it would make you happy?

We don’t get ahead because our parents held us back, the economy is down in the dumps, the current administration is nothing but hell. And while all of that may be true, it takes a strong person to stop accepting what is, and do what they choose to do instead.

Get Healthy
I watched a documentary a while back. In it, they asked a 40-something man about making better food choices. By doing so, he was told he could live a healthier, longer life. He laughed and said, “Why? I love fast food. By eating this way, it’ll kill me sooner, and I won’t have to live with medical problems.”

I’ve never understood that position, and yet it’s a popular one. Why think about the future when you can enjoy everything today? Those greasy cheeseburgers taste good, right? Those triple hot fudge chocolate brownies with whip cream are to die for.

Yep, that part is right.

In your teens and twenties, many eat worse because they haven’t taken the time to understand what bad food will do to you. But when you have wake-up calls, you no longer have any excuse. I learned that when I lost my father at 54 due to a massive heart attack.

I started asking why? What could I do differently? And when I found out food was a major contributor, I changed my life around for good. I eat now to provide the proper energy my body needs, not just for enjoyment. And the funny thing is the more you eat the good stuff, the worse the bad stuff tastes.

Learn From Healthy Resources
From an early age, we’re taught to respect our elders. And so I did.

I started asking why about the time I had my daughter. Should I make my daughter respect a person in authority if they are a child molester? Should I ask her to respect someone who abuses her?

The world is filled with good and bad. It’s up to each of us to determine what good and bad means.

The older I get, the more credence I put behind how to define each of those concepts. I also speak out more when I disagree.

Yet some just accept things the way they are. Why? Why not choose who you learn from, grow with, use as your guide, accept as your motivators carefully? Why not choose resources that make you be a better you? Why not choose to grow in a positive way?

Get Physical
I remember as a child playing outside all the time. I was on my bike and would disappear for hours at a time with the only requirement of being home for supper. We played baseball in the street. I spent hours on my trampoline. I walked to school.

Then things changed. And I’ll admit I was a part of the process. We chose a private school for our daughter, which meant there was no way to walk. I drove her from age three until she received her driver’s license and could drive herself to school.

We drove to activities rather than letting kids play in the streets. The world was a dangerous place after all.

But the older I get, the more I see the world as a place to explore. And I do so in many ways. I no longer have television. We do have a Netflix subscription, and I binge watch the most talked about shows once in awhile. Instead, I choose to read. To spend every weekend in a different location. To try things I’ve never done before.

Use it or lose it. If I don’t keep moving, I feel it in my bones, my joints. So I take classes at my local rec center. I try to walk 10,000 steps every day. I have met some of my best friends by walking through the community. I hike on a regular basis. I look for ways to stay active because I know what it does for me.

Set Your Standards At A New Level
You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s become one of my favorite sayings.

With youth comes the desire to try and explore. Then life settles in, and you accept what happens. You add to your responsibilities. Your needs grow and change. We fall into life and let whatever happens, happen.

But with age comes opportunity. I have experience to look back and discover what works and what doesn’t I can use that to adjust my future rather than moving aimlessly into the future.

For example, we developed a close group of friends while my daughter was in preschool, a group I could see us with for the rest of our lives. We got together almost weekly thanks to school activities. We even traveled together for vacations. We passed up moving to a new city because we didn’t want to tell this group goodbye.

Life happened.

Today, I’ve lost touch with two couples. Two of the couples are divorced and living in different states.

It taught me that while friends and relationships are important, moving forward in a big way is always in your best interest. If you love someone, set them free is an important part of every relationship, whether romantic, friendship or otherwise.

Take to heart who you are and what you have to give to the world. Then move in the world accordingly.

Get Quiet
A few years ago a friend started a meditation business. I quietly thought “not for me.” Then she shared with me all of the benefits.

  • Gratitude
  • Inspiration
  • Self-realization
  • Deepened connection with self
  • Improve humanity as a whole
  • Stress relief

So I took a class at her home. And I started researching it a little bit more. I don’t do it for religious reasons – my agnostic views want nothing to do with that part of the process. But it was the focus on becoming a better me that hooked me and kept me going back.

Now I meditate most days of the week. I’ve combined that with journaling to seek inspiration, direction, and heightened perspective.

It improves my self-control. It gives me a better perspective on my days. It helps me forgive. It helps me trust the world is a better place. And the stress? Yep, that melts away.

Quiet is a good thing, and it has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with getting in tune with you.

Earn Good Relationships
The first people in your life are put there with purpose. They are family, and you can’t change your connection.

But as you age, you start to discover the difference between good and bad relationships. Negative people hold you down. And that doesn’t matter if they are family or friends. Whether you’ve known them a lifetime or just a few minutes.

To be in the presence of people you deserve, you have to do what it takes to earn their trust. That means being the best you so you have more of you to give.

It works with the friends in your life. It works with your family. It works with your spouse.

If you’re not in your best place, you’ll find fault in those around you. You’ll allow their negativity to feed your faults. And that increases the pain.

The surer you are of you, the more you’ll say “no” to those that hold you back and don’t believe the same as you.

Yes to healthy relationships because you’re healthy yourself. Because healthy relationships:

  • Inspire you
  • Give you a greater sense of life satisfaction
  • Increase your happiness
  • Make you healthier

“Choose your love, love your choice.” Thomas Monson

Fall In Love With Your World
Think the world holds you back? Think again.

We now live in a world where everything – EVERYTHING – is at our fingertips. Want to become better at math? Google it. Want an education? Google it. At your fingertips is an increasing supply of the best information we have. You can become an expert at anything sitting from the comfort of your chair.

It isn’t about finding the information anymore. It’s about sifting through the information to get what you truly need.

You don’t have to visit a new geographical location; you can do so with Google Earth. Map it and dive deep to “see” the city streets of anywhere you want to be. You can get reviews on the local dining options and discover how vibrant a community is just with a few searches.

I still recommend visiting places; there are some things you can’t pick up simply by reading about it. But we can become so much richer in our lives just by asking better questions.

It’s not what divides us that helps us grow. It’s how we see we’re so much alike. And the more you see what other cultures bring to the table, the more you fall in love with your world.

Take Bigger Risks
When I graduated college, it was in the heart of a financial downturn and jobs were few and far between. It took me months to find a position, so of course, I said Yes to the first one that came along.

Shortly after I said yes, a bigger, better opportunity came along. But instead of taking a risk and dropping the position I wasn’t as excited about, I told the other opportunity No.

I often wonder what my life would have been like had I said Yes instead.

Life is filled with opportunity. It’s also filled with risk.

What if?

What if you jumped instead of stood still?

What if you moved instead of stayed the same?

What if you told someone goodbye to make room in your life for something new?

What if you smiled instead of frowned?

I play the what if game all the time. Because it’s amazing where it leads. It allows you to look at your life through different eyes.

Sometimes it can be a painful reminder of things that can never be. But it still allows you a peek at your potential, and gives you the choice of being all you can be.