I remember when my mom turned 40. I remember everyone making a big deal about it. We were on vacation, visiting family, and there was a celebration complete with black balloons and jokes about being “Over the Hill.” At the time, I didn’t understand what that meant or why 40 was such a big deal. I do know that it seemed a far distant future for my own life.
Fast forward a few decades and here I am at 40.
My 40th birthday was (gulp) a little over a year ago and while I certainly don’t feel ancient, I am not exactly in the “age is just a number” camp either. Over the Hill though? I don’t know about that. I am not a fan of the reference and am kind of happy that Over the Hill parties don’t seem to be a “thing” with my peers, in the same way, they were for my parents. I mean, the joke is supposed to be that your life has peaked and you are rolling downhill from now on, into the grave. Hmmm… not sure that thought makes me want to laugh.
In the month’s leading up to my 40th birthday, I started an exercise on my personal Instagram account in which I would list three things that make me happy that day. Science has shown that forcing positive thoughts can actually help your brain establish positivity as a habit. I am a notoriously, glass-half-empty person and I figured nothing bad can come from trying to recognize the good in life. Some days and some topics were more challenging than others, but those were the days I appreciated the most. Because even on the worst day, there is something good to find and when you do, you realize the bad isn’t as all-encompassing as it seems.
So, why the #choosehappiness tangent?
Because as I stared down the barrel at 40, I found myself at peace with myself for quite possibly the very first time in my life. I resolved to prioritize my health in an effort to be a more present and active mom and eventually a present and active grandmother. I evaluated my life and my career and took steps towards goals that have been important to me but placed on the back burner. I have settled into friendships, instead of keeping myself guarded. I feel comfortable in my own skin.
I have spoken to several of my now 40-year-old friends and was pleasantly surprised to hear that they have experienced a lot of these same feelings. I often still feel a bit surreal about the fact that I am in my 40s, but you know what, middle-age isn’t all that bad.