A positive mindset really does make the difference between misery and joy.
As we get older, the glass can seem half empty, and draining relentlessly year by year. But I can tell you from personal experience, that’s rubbish. Yes, the best years of our lives lie ahead of us.
Surrender to depression is tempting, but avoidable
I’m 74, still working from home, and I love my life. My good luck – although it didn’t seem like it at the time – was to lose my company in the recession of 1991-3. I was entering my fifties, had a young family to support, and no income to support them with. Almost twenty five years later, I am still working and finding life more fulfilling than ever.
The core pillar of what I have learned along the way can be summarised in one word: mindset. In the words attributed to Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”. Now that’s what I call a positive mindset!
Why a Positive Mindset is Important
Mindset is important for a host of reasons, but the most fundamental one is to overcome the feeling of victimhood that comes with redundancy, or retiring with a painfully inadequate pension.
The feeling of being a victim is intensified by the ageing process itself. Bits stop working so well, and mentally you have a feeling that not only are you not as young as you were, but you’re not as sharp as you were (untrue, but understandable). Macro events don’t help. Austerity bites everywhere and jobs seem to go to younger people. Wherever you look, it’s just not fair. And Brexit is unlikely to help. Austerity is unlikely to go away any time soon.
The truth is that to age better, you have to feel in control of your life and the events within it. Autonomy is all.
If you have a mindset that make you feel certain that you – and you alone – are in control of how you feel, and how you face the world, you have a fighting chance of developing a sense not just of confidence, but of freedom. You are free because you are pulling the strings. You are a victim no longer.
The Four Autonomies for a Fulfilling Life
My experience leads me to believe that there are four – possibly five – areas to develop autonomy. I’ll give an example of just one.
It’s the Autonomy of Learning.
The truth is – especially as we get older – we are either learning and growing, or, as our knowledge and insights decline, we are shrivelling and dying. The latter means you are withdrawing from life, and sinking slowly into irrelevance and victim-hood. The former means you can contribute more, and find more fulfilment in all you do.
The choice is yours. But having a mindset that confirms you in control, are autonomous, and that life is good to great, and getting better, sounds more fun to me.