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20 Life Lessons Everyone Can Master By The Age Of 40

20 Life Lessons Everyone Can Master By The Age Of 40

There are many advantages of hitting ‘The Big 40.’ The most valuable, however is that you’re at a point in life where you can begin taking the life lessons you’ve endured and make them work for you, instead of against you. The following are just some of the lessons people at the age of 40 have endured enough to have mastered by now. So now, it’s all about putting your mental skills into action and turning these lessons around into a direction that enables you to thrive.

1. Everything will be okay, and if it’s not, it’s certainly not the end of the world.

By this time in life, we’ve faced enough troubles to know that the hardship will soon pass. Children and young adults don’t have the life experience of enduring difficult times and situations with the confidence that it’s going to be okay. By thinking optimistically in a difficult situation, our sense of rationality boosts the ability to find solutions that will help, rather than hinder the situation. You can now take your knowledge and experience and help friends and loved ones to realize that there’s light at the end of the tunnel in all situations with confidence that it’s not the end of the world.

2.  Find what you love and own it!

As young adults, we often take to heart the input of friends, family members and loved ones a little too much. It may even distract us from going after what really brings intrinsic reward in life. My mom is a retired educator and when I told her about my first position as a special education teacher, she told me I’d hate special education.

A few days later, a 4th grade position became available. I took it because of what my mom said. It was okay, but I didn’t come home truly feeling in my gut that I belonged where I was. The following year, I took a special education position. As a result, I’ve been able to handle my own kids’ learning disabilities and help parents of other children cope as well. A time came where I had to trust my own strengths and passions. When I did, I took off and haven’t stopped since.

3. Don’t fear mistakes.

Failure is the pathway to success. There’s always something to learn from mistakes. Even if it’s simply that you know not to make that same mistake again. With past mistakes, you’ve agonized over what you ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’ done. In reality, the best way to approach mistakes is to find some way to improve and move forward.

4. You deserve respect.

When my son was a teenager and had his friends over, at first I held the attitude of, “I’m your elder, so you’re going to respect me.”  I even went so far as to demand that they answer me with, ‘yes’ and ‘no ma’am.’  As time went on, I realized that by ‘demanding’ respect, it caused them to be intimidated, or at least, not want to be around me.

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Gradually, I began greeting them, joking with them and asking them questions about their interests. In a short amount of time, they no longer avoided me. In fact, they talked to me more, weren’t afraid to come to me when there was a huge problem and they began answering me with ‘yes’ and ‘no ma’am’ automatically, without insisting they do it. I earned their respect…and so it came automatically.

Society still commands respect for its elders. So emulate behavior that earns it. You’re considered older, wiser and more experienced to younger generations so find ways to encourage, be a positive example. By doing this, the respect will automatically come.

5. Romance is NOT the same as love.

Romance is conditional. It’s based on appearance, hormones, mood.  Love is unconditional. It is unconditional love that weathers the storms of life. The good, the bad, the ugly, the hurt, the financial strain, the betrayals and even the illnesses. It can bear all things and become stronger through life’s struggles and tragedies.

6. It’s never too late to live a life that makes you proud.

It goes along with the age old saying, “Keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”  Only you have the power to change you, and you can do it at any given point and time in your life. By middle age, the perception of time is completely different. Time holds a more precious role, so you’re less likely to waste it and go after what you want with ambition and passion!

7. Remain calm in all situations.

When I was 20, I was in Burger King and a man started violently choking. I hysterically yelled out, “Call 911, he’s choking!” At the time, I was a licensed E.M.T. and had the knowledge and ability to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on him, but instead, I panicked.

About a year ago, while in church, the boy next to me was eating hard candy, and yes, he started choking. Without any hesitation, I got up and performed the Heimlich on him and out popped the candy. I patted him on the back and quietly went back to my seat.

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What would it look like if you were to fall apart in every stressful situation as a middle aged person? It’s expected that older persons are wiser, calmer and better at dealing with difficult situations. Approach chaos with confidence and wisdom from your life experiences. It’s time to serve as an example instead of being a middle aged ‘blithering bloke.’

8. You win some, you lose some.

In all situations, there are winners and losers. You can’t always be the winner so lose gracefully and put into use what your parents drilled into you about not being a sore loser. There’s always a ‘next time.’

9. The term ‘Overnight Success’ really means 2 to 10 years.

Everything takes time and the best things in life are earned through consistency and patience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if you just work hard, you’ll have everything you ever wanted. There’s definitely such a thing as working smarter. In order to discover ways to work ‘smarter’ it takes years of experience.

10. Maintain your focus.

Having good focus is directly connected to self-discipline. There will always be distractions, especially in the digital age. Making every single party and social event just isn’t as important now. Use your experience, wisdom and instincts to focus on what’s truly important in life.

11. Not everyone is always going to like you.

This is a difficult concept to grasp when you’re young. We all want to be liked by everyone. It’s impossible, and it takes too much energy trying to please everyone. Be yourself, as authentic as possible because it comes naturally and reserve your energy for going after your goals.

12. You simply cannot control everything and everyone.

It took years for this to really sink in, but now that you truly know this, you’re able to enjoy life, and people a lot more. Peace comes easier when you’re not stewing over how to control any and all situations.

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13. Energy is everywhere and you can use yours to either work for you, or against you.

Disliking, not forgiving and trying to change others takes more energy then just letting it go and minding your own business. Now that you’ve mastered this, you can choose wisely where to expend energy to create the ideal life for you.

14. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

It’s not that you condone everything that happens, or everything that people do and say. It has more to do with accepting people and places exactly as is and still being able to thrive among them.

15. Money is not the measure of success.

You’ve learned to make your happiness with what you have. If you haven’t, you can start right now. Think about the home you have, your family and friends. You’ve built relationships and gained experience for a good solid two decades and now you have the chance to enjoy what you’ve built, with or without cash.

16. It’s not about what you have. It’s about what you do with what you have.

So you used to be a great athlete but with age, the body begins to fail. You still have the talent and experience so use your focus and energy on coaching, writing, sponsoring athletics. Such is the same with many other aspects of your life. For example, modeling. You may not be able to land the assignments like you used to, but you still have a gift with fashion, make-up, and photography. You can take your life experiences and cater to your age, your health and your condition right now. Take what you have and thrive beyond your 40 years!

17. You really do reap what you sow.

This includes both your thoughts and your actions. You know that when your thoughts and your actions promote, encourage and emulate humility, your life is blissful. Work hard, be honest, love, forgive and most of all, stay in the game of life. It’s what has brought you success in past years and what you’ll thrive off of in the years to come.

18. Happiness doesn’t just come to you automatically. You make it with your thoughts and actions.

I have two side jobs to help pay tuition for my girls’ private school. One is putting up 60 ‘Open House’ signs for a housing development on the weekends and the other is a paper route that entails getting up at 4 a.m every Saturday. Sound dreadful? Not in the least. I make it fun for the girls and I. I choose to approach these jobs with adventure and gratitude. As a result, the girls are learning how to work hard, be responsible and that even dreadful tasks can be rewarding. (Now if I could just get them to enjoy cleaning their rooms!)

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19. The past has passed for a reason. So let it go.

It’s exhausting hanging onto all those negative emotions. With age, letting go of the past becomes easier. You’ve seen and felt the residual of hanging onto the past. Most of all, our energy, and time are more precious. If you’re still hanging onto past incidents, it’s never too late to let go.

20. Life is short and can end in an instant. Live it to the fullest.

Experience over the years has made us realize that people could be gone from your life in an instant. Every single day counts. It’s important to take life’s lessons, learn from them, and live every moment so that you have no unfinished apologies or business.

If you’re familiar with the story of wandering in the desert for 40 years, in reality, life today is similar. You spent your first 40 wandering, searching, testing the waters. Now that you have the experience and knowledge from ‘wandering the desert,’ you’re armed with everything you  need to make the next 40 years amazing. So go…put your experience and your mental skills to work and make it another amazing 40!

For more amazing tips on how to thrive after 40, learn how to look younger than your age here.

Featured photo credit: lostinreviews.com via lostinreviews.com

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Lynn Silva

Lynn Silva helps solo and entrepreneurs develop mental skills for business.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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