There’s a reason they call them the Golden Years. I speak from personal experience; Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been enjoying our empty-nester years a great deal, and while I’m still working well over the normal forty a week, we have managed to insert some travel into the schedules, as you’ve seen here. These are wonderful years; our kids are grown and doing well, business is good, our health is good, and our personal world has sort of come back around to the two of us; right now, life is damned good.
Turns out that we’re not alone. Excerpts, with my comments:
A large percentage of surveyed older adults finally have the time to travel and see the world. In all, 39% have spent more than 20 days on vacation over just the past year. Only 27% of adults under 35 could say the same. In fact, many older respondents agreed they’re happy they waited until their later years to do most of their traveling, as now they are better equipped both financially and emotionally to really enjoy different parts of the world.
I’m still working and will for some years yet; a big part of what gives my life meaning is in the production of value and, frankly, money’s a great motivator. But Mrs. A and I love to travel, and we’re finding more time to fit in at least long weekends in interesting locations.
The majority of surveyed older adults are also enjoying good mental health as well. A significant 70% said they are feeling happy and content on a mental level, compared to 59% of adults under 35. Similarly, only 30% of the older respondents admitted to frequent bouts of stress or anxiety, while 63% of adults under 35 often feel stressed, and 60% battle anxiety.
For us, “happy and content” is something of an understatement. Our only niggling source of dissatisfaction lies in the mess that has been made of Colorado, our adopted home state (I grew up in Iowa, Mrs. A in Maryland) that we grew to love. But we planned for that, and in a few more years, we’ll move north, which will make our level on the “happy and content” scale move pretty close to max.
All in all, it’s clear that older adults are, to put it simply, very happy. For instance, 72% are comfortable with their age, 64% are content in life, and 53% have never felt more confident. Moreover, another 53% said they feel much younger than what their date of birth says!
All of the above. And here’s the real kicker:
Of course, with old age comes wisdom. Respondents were asked if they had any advice for younger generations, and their most frequent response was always make time for your loved ones. Other popular answers included travel as much as possible, don’t be afraid of new things, don’t change to please other people, and try not to worry about the small stuff.
I’d agree with all of that, and add a few things:
Be available for your kids as they make their way through their own lives. Empty-nesterhood is great, but you never, ever stop being a parent.
Never lose your sense of wonder. The world is huge, amazing, full of adventure. See as much as you can. Do as much as you can. When I was a young man, I decided that I would make sure all my sins were sins of commission, not sins of omission. I think I’ve done that. Don’t ever leave anything out. No regrets!
These are the Golden Years. It’s a great place to be in life.