As far back as I can recall, birthday card greetings and party store banners have told me that 40 is a birthday I should NOT be joyful about. 40 is “over the hill” and “it’s all downhill from here.” As a little kid, I remember thinking that turning 40 meant you were officially “old” and half your life was over. I thought 40 characterized the mid-life crises resulting from unfulfilled dreams and desires that I saw depicted in TV and movies.
What I did not expect was that somehow, in my head and heart, I’d continue to feel like a kid. I thought I’d get a job, buy a house, have kids, pay bills, and feel…well…old. But then I did all those things and the old feeling never kicked in. I waited, but…nope...nothing.
Now, at six months shy of 40, I know that old is not a thing that you turn into. I do believe it is a way you can think, but not a way you have to think. I don’t believe there’s a time in life that you need to shut down your plans or “act your age.” Maybe, at some point, we have to make some minor revisions based on what our bodies let us do, but we can always keep dreaming and keep doing.
I run a few Contagious Optimism Wellness Groups, and I’ve met seniors who still ride roller coasters, who continue to travel the world to explore different cultures, who are extremely active in community leadership, and who despite changes in their bodies that can come with age, have hearts and minds filled with passion, zest, and excitement for the future. I get captivated by their stories…by who they are. They inspire me. They make me want to be better. In their 60s, my parents still go to Disney World together twice a month, readily re-experiencing the awe of the Magic Kingdom like its the first time. That's what I want 20, 30, 40, 50+ years from today.
So, as 2015 grew closer, I became more excited. There’s so much I want to do this year…and beyond. Some of it productive, some of it just because…why not? I want to do a positive psychology research study because that is one of my great passions…I want to study how people maintain optimism, gratitude, kindness, and a million other positive emotions and behaviors. I want to interview people for a qualitative study and do a quantitative study too…and I want to publish it in a journal, a book, either, or both. I want to ramp up my volunteer work and keep my now five-year-old son volunteering with me so social responsibility is simply a part of who he is throughout his life. I want to give to more charities with causes I’m passionate about and support the ones that matter to the people I love. I want to work on my patience because, well, anyone close to me knows I need to do that…it will make me a better mom, wife, daughter, friend, worker, and human. I want to get healthier in my eating and start exercising…despite how the simple thought of exercising makes me tired. I want to do a TED Talk or a Contagious Optimism talk…so far I’ve been turned down for one TED Talk I applied for, but that won’t stop me! I want to keep growing my hair longer and longer like I dreamed of as a little girl, but never did. I want to wear glittery nail polish forever. I want to keep donning my hearts, stars, and bows like the child that still lives in my mind and heart. I want to celebrate the big “four oh” with a roller skating party. I want to keep being authentically me, embracing my heart-on-my-sleeve, mildly eccentric, and quirky self. I want to never really grow up…and be wise…and turn 40…simultaneously.
Finally, to kick off "My Year of 40,” I want to launch a blog. I have wanted to start a blog for what seems like forever, but always told myself I was too busy. This year, I don’t care about busy, it’s happening. I want to blog about seeing all the good in this life, because while I haven’t always been an optimist, I’ve worked to transform myself into one over the years. In all the work I do, whether its teaching, facilitating workshops, running groups, coaching clients, or writing resumes, I love helping other people see and embrace their unique awesomeness, believe in what they are capable of, and trust that despite news channels that often tell us otherwise, there are lots of good people out there in this world. I don’t endeavor to have us ignore our own or the world’s problems, but rather to use our God given gifts to both solve and transcend them. In my blog, I want to write about how we can teach ourselves to see all the good in ourselves, others, and life…and, eventually, have this “good sight” become automatic, so it becomes harder and harder to see impossibility and second nature to see the endless possibilities…
And this, as it turns out, is my blog’s first post ;-) Happy 2015! Let "My Year of 40” and OUR year of Seeing All the Good begin!