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Friday, March 30, 2007

Happiness is.....

March 24

If you are old like me I might have some good news for you. I was reading this article on MSN the other day about middle-age and happiness. Like most everything on MSN, the article was only posted for a fleeting moment and my subsequent efforts to track it down proved futile so I was a little sketchy on the details but it got me thinking.
I know, haven't I learned?
First, I was thinking about where all those articles go after their 15 minutes of MSN fame. I mean they are there for sometimes all day and sometimes only 5 minutes. And sometimes they come back a few days later. Like this one did. But now it's gone again so I'm still going to have to paraphrase it and you are going to have to believe what I say, but only for the sake of this story. I don't stand behind anything beyond these pages. I am not Wikipedia - just someone with too many opinions.
So, the gist of that story was that once the average American turns 18 he gets less and less happy UNTIL he hits the age of 45. Then, believe it or not, life turns around and he gets happier until, well….that’s where I was a little unclear, but I'm not making this up. I do remember that there were supposed to be at least 15 years of upswing but I’m not sure when it's all supposed to level out, assuming that centenarians aren’t a total heap of euphoric bliss. But maybe they are. Personally, I was just excited to learn that I have at least another 12 years of increasing happiness.
One thing I do remember is that the researchers who did the study were economists and their focus was on the contribution that financial security makes to happiness.....I think. The results seem a little backwards to me. Don't you typically get more financially secure as you move from age 18 to 45? So, it seems, you would get happier, not more miserable.
Whatever. I am not here to analyze their methods or dispute their conclusions. In yet another example of Jane, the absolute average American, I can truthfully say that age 45 or thereabouts was the armpit of my life. A hamster armpit. Runningrunningrunning. In the dark. On a poop-covered hamster wheel. That was my life. And since I have to agree that I have become much happier in the last few years, not solely due to pharmaceuticals, I can't dispute their conclusions but I can, as is my way, make this all about me.
SO, I have completed my own research of one and come up with my own personal list of Why Life is Better after 45 (In no particular order, just the way they rolled out of my pea).
And I'm going to leave my list up forever so you can look at it ANY TIME YOU WANT, MSN.
1) I can sleep. All night. Solid, coma-like, roll over on the cat and not care sleep.
2) I have quit wasting my time questioning authority. I have become part of authority and I know that there is usually a darn good reason for rules, laws and all that stuff that tells you what to do in life. This would not include Dubya & Co, who I do not consider to be any kind of authority. Sorry for letting my blue underwear show.
3) I think I have mostly emotionally divested myself from my job. I try to focus on what I can do and can change and forget about what I can't. There's a whole lot left of me when I get home at night.
4) My family makes me less crazy. This would be the family from where I came not the family I have helped create. I can't change them and they aren't going to change me. I can live with that. I hope they can, too.
5) I am really enjoying our kids. I am not so worried about every choice I make scarring them for life or sending them straight to rehab. Or worry that I am being selfish or too lenient. They are comfortable enough to express their opinions of my parenting techniques. I am secure enough to consider their point of view before invoking the 'Because I'm the Mom' power.
6) I don't care what I look like at the gym. I don't have to worry about my outfit matching or my butt looking big. If I had an awesome tush then I wouldn't have to be there, would I? I don't do my hair to work out either. Or to go to the grocery store although I usually try to calm it down from 'psycho mode'. No sense scaring the little ones. I could even wear footies and Birkinstocks if I wanted to. I don't want to, thank God, but the day's probably coming. At Target I could be Crazy Jane, the lady wearing a leopard headwrap, high heels and too much lipstick and no one would care - really. Did they ever or was that just our imaginations?
7) I don't have to worry about getting talked into taking my top off at drunken parties. Yeah, I know that hasn't happened in years but it's still a load off my mind.
8) I can drive the car I want. I have a cute little crossover, I think it's called. The gas mileage is delicious and it is big enough for any chick trip my friend and I can invent. It is not a mom wagon. It is not the family car. It doesn't even whisper mid-life crisis but it feels sassy to me.
9) I sweat the small stuff less than ever before. I still cuss at other drivers but I don't put as much heart into it. I have really let up on old people. I guess it's because the The Ghost of Driving Future visited me the other night. In my coma.
10) I feel less pressure to be the perfect person. I am still battling the shoulds with the coulds, but I feel like the coulds are winning more often now. Exhibit A: messy kitchen in sight while I do this.
11) Instead of worrying what bad thing is coming next, I realize how lucky I am to have made it this far in life without running into any crisis that I couldn't weather. Yes, what didn't kill me has made me stronger but I think I'm really strong enough, God. Trust me.
So there you have it. If you are under 45, you have something to look forward to.
If you are over 45 you probably have something to add to that list.
I can't wait until 60. I'll be dancing through the mall...in my leopard headwrap....dancing to old disco tunes on my ipod. Woohoo. If I just keep telling myself that....

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