Men often don’t face aging in a positive way, even going as far as to add the word “crisis” to our midlife. But hitting your mid-40s doesn’t mean you have to turn your life upside-down by quitting your job, divorcing your wife and driving away in a cherry red sports car you can barely afford.
Instead, flip a potential midlife crisis into a positive experience, a time you can enjoy, says New York City-based clinical psychologist Vivian Diller. When midlife comes knocking, answer the door with a sense of calm, and use the wisdom gained throughout your life to make good decisions.
Being in your mid-40s means you have 30, 40, maybe even 50 years still ahead of you. As you age, biological changes will happen, which is something that often instigates men to do something drastic, Diller says.
“Men see their physicality and virility change, and that usually sets them off,” Diller says.
“Rather than buying a new car and leaving the wife, the longer view should be, ‘Can I be satisfied with the life I’ve created thus far for the next 30 or 40 years?’ And try to think on that without panicking. You may realize there’s plenty to be happy about.”
Stop and think
Instead of looking at aging with a doom-and-gloom attitude, consider how you got to this point. A knee-jerk reaction to throw out what might seem mundane could actually end up sabotaging your happiness. You could end up right back where you started.
“I tell people to pause and think about all that has led you to where you are,” Diller says.
“That gut-feeling action you take might prolong or repeat what you have done before. Ask yourself, ‘Does it make sense to leave my job for something else? Can I do this, financially speaking?’”
Know who you really are
Be aware of who you are now, instead of who or what you wanted to be when you were younger. Most men who enter crisis mode are trying to relive their youthful ambitions.
“Studies have shown people actually start to feel more content as they age because their expectations are more in line with who they really are,” Diller says. “They are not striving so much to be something else.”
Plan for a long life
The best way to age is to get ready for it. Being in good health and in good shape financially can help ease the transition into a new stage of life.
“If you aren’t physically and financially prepared to age, of course you won’t feel good about it,” Diller says.
“You age from the day you are born until the day you die. Start planning for it right away. It will be worth it.”
Take a look around
Let go of your youth, and accept your age, Diller says. Mourn it if need be, but take comfort in the good decisions you’ve made, and from the lessons you’ve learned.
“When people get older, the playing field is leveled,” she says. “Money, prestige and power aren’t as important.
Families can get closer because they feel the passing of time makes them appreciate each other more. Feel satisfaction in your decisions.”