My Life Philosophy at 55
What do I want out of life for the remainder of my days? That’s the question rattling around in my brain as I turn 55-years old this month. I’ve settled on two overarching ideas:
- Look forward to waking up every morning
- Feel the very best I can each day
The first one is a mammoth topic with a lot of depth, layers, and baggage. I’ll expand on it another day. Today I want to talk about the goal of feeling the best I can each day.
55 Is Not the New 25
When you’re 25-years-old, you don’t think about feeling good. You work out to look good in a bikini or Speedos but feeling good isn’t a thought — a byproduct but not the goal. Life shifts along the way, as well as your body, and at 55-years-old, feeling good takes effort. I care less about how I look and more about how I feel.
I want to feel good every day and have the strength and mobility to do whatever I want. This includes serving others. I don’t want to say, “Sorry, I can’t help you. I have this health thing.”
Plus, feeling bad sucks. Who looks forward to waking up in the mornings when they won’t feel good? So, my two goals work hand in hand. When I feel the best I can each day, I’ll look forward to getting out of bed.
Survey Your Habits
So, I’ve surveyed my life over the last few months for habits that work against my goal to feel the very best I can each day. I discovered a few bad habits and worked to replace them with good ones. It’s been a process of subtraction and addition — subtracting the bad and adding better.
But note, I said subtract, not eliminate. That’s an important distinction.
Subtract, Not Eliminate
For example, I like beer, and while some argue beer flushes out your kidneys, it’s not a great habit, especially if you’re 30–40 pounds overweight. So, I replaced beer with red wine at home. Red wine has proven heart health benefits. But if I go out with a friend, which is only once or twice a month, I’ll drink a beer. Because I like beer.
Subtraction — not elimination because life is too short to eliminate everything you enjoy.
But I don’t enjoy red wine. I gave it a good go. It gives me a headache, and that isn’t feeling the best I can every day. So, I eliminated red wine, and I’m content to wait for and anticipate an excellent local IPA when I go out.
Replace Your Bad Habits with Good Ones
Another subtraction/addition example is diet sodas. I had a 2–3 a day habit, and while I can’t blame sodas for making me feel bad, the artificial sweeteners aren’t healthy, are they?
But I like them. And sodas felt like a daily, no-calorie treat. Instead of eliminating them, I cut back from 2–3 a day to three a week. I replaced the daily soda habit with hot tea (green or Earl Grey) or sparkling mineral water. My mind considers these substitutions as a treat. The mind wants it wants.
It’s much easier to eliminate or trim a bad habit when you replace it with a good one.
Naps and Chocolate Eclairs
A final example — I love naps. Naps are delicious, and on Sunday afternoons, I’d climb into bed and gorge on a 3–4-hour sleep fest. They felt so good, like eating a family-size portion of a chocolate eclair. It’s tasty until you stop and experience the aftermath. I’d wake up groggy and with a headache.
Unfortunately, I had to count these long naps as a bad habit and put them through the subtraction/addition machine. I still get a nap with a couple of modifications:
- I nap in my chair, not in bed
- I set my alarm for one hour
I added the habit of writing for the rest of the afternoon. Now I wake refreshed, without a headache, and do something else I love. This adjustment helps me feel the very best I can.
I won’t be donning a Speedo any time soon (never), but it sure feels good to feel good. The benefit comes at a small expense of a few bad habits, and I’m okay with it. The pleasure derived from bad habits is fleeting while the effects pile on for a lifetime.