Yes, I just hit 40. Sounds like I hit a tow truck.
We’ve been socially conditioned to treat it as some dead-end, or worse, a hill top. After this, it’s only downhill. The truth is its one of the most liberating milestones in your life. By 40, you are mostly wiser, professionally established, (hopefully) financially secure and personally surer about what you want in life. You are also still young enough to chase some new dreams, enjoy the fruits of your labors and reinvent yourself, if need be.
Running up to my 40th birthday, I started thinking of listing out all that I had learnt in the last decades. All those years had to count for wisdom, if nothing else. Some of the below lessons, I learnt myself. Some were taught to me by others. Some will make me sound profound, others plain stupid. If some sound familiar to you, give me a shout.
1. If you want something in life, really, really want it, go get it yourself! If you are sitting around waiting for the universe to conspire in your favor, oh dear, it’s gonna be a long wait.
2. A beautiful body can be acquired, for a price. Everything from good skin to hair to other physical assets can be purchased. You just need a good cosmetic surgeon and a bucket load of money.
3. No amount of money can buy you a beautiful heart.
4. Health is wealth. This will sound truer and truer as you grow older. But, as luck would have it, health will be on its way out when the wealth is on its way in.
5. Your car is your second home. Keep it well-stocked.
6. Read the end of the book first. If you don’t like it, you could save yourself a lot of time by not returning to page 1.
7. Watch your words. Say ONLY what you mean. And please, for Heaven’s sake, please, DO NOT say what you do not mean.
8. Nothing beats the blues as getting into your car, rolling up the windows, turning up the radio and singing along. Pretend you are Beyonce or worse, Justin Bieber.
9. Keep your head in the clouds….but your feet firmly on the ground.
10. Tennyson was right. ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ Love gives perspective in life.
11. If you are going to show off by ordering salad at the team lunch, make sure you have eaten before stepping out of home.
12. Orange is the new black. Basically, wear plenty of colors. Let that wardrobe reflect your every mood.
13. That said, when in doubt, wear black.
14. Live life with dignity. Chin up. Stand tall…even if you have to do it in high heels.
15. Reading innumerable articles on exercise and watching Youtube videos of exercise will NOT help you lose weight. You have to actually, err, exercise.
16. Be on good terms with your dentist. Seriously, nowhere else does one feel more helpless than while lying inclined in a monstrous chair with menacing drills and saws and pointy objects, all directed at your open jaw.
17. Get everyone else in the family a regular dental appointment. Hee haa haa haa
why should you suffer alone?
18. Do NOT succumb to impulse haircuts. You know that crazy idea to get the same hairdo as the bleached biker chick in Fast and Furious? Probably not a good idea, if the ‘fastest’ your life has ever gone is to beat traffic at KR Puram bridge and get into office for 10am conf call.
19. Do go an impulse holiday. Or holidays, if you can afford them. Some of my fondest memories are from holidays taken on an impulse, a fanciful whim. I have looked back and thought, wow, I can’t believe I did that.
20. Don’t be a martyr. If you really want to be of any use to others, ‘put on your oxygen mask first’.
21. Never shop on a hungry stomach or on pay day. Both ways, you’ll make purchase decisions that you may regret.
22. Choose your battles. You have limited time and energy. It’s not worth expending energy over every autowallah who flouts lane discipline or demands one-and-half, but its worth fighting over your next pay hike or female infanticide or deforestation. Choose your fights.
23. Keep the past firmly in the past.
24. Indulge eccentricities – in yourself as well as in others. Like, wearing a purple hat, speaking in alliterative sentences or arranging notes denomination-wise in a wallet, all Gandhi’s facing up.
25. Beg, borrow, steal but pay off your credit card bill every month. Okay, don’t steal please.
26. People change. Accept it.
27. Om Googlaaya namah. The search engine has transformed our lives. Respect.
28. When it comes to crucial life decisions, everyone makes them at their own paced time. Allow them. You can take the horse to the water; you cannot make it drink.
29. ‘Wash your hair. Clip your nails. Don’t wear heels. Be an engineer. Be a doctor.’ Say these words over and over again to your children to successfully sound like your parents.
30. Values are subjective. What’s sacrosanct to you could mean squat to someone else. It’s okay.
31. Forgive. But never forget.
32. When someone’s making you angry, smile. Hold your breath, suck your stomach in and smile hard.
33. “If the eyes were without tears, the heart would have no rainbow.” One is truly alive only when one empathizes with life and people around us.
34. Save for a rainy day. Oh BTW, when it rains, it usually pours.
35. Don’t play the victim card. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
36. This too shall pass.
37. It’s okay to be a sentimental fool.
38. That point in the middle of a vociferous argument when you realize you are wrong, that’s the perfect point to pretend you have a call from your mother.
39. Never add your boss to your Facebook friend list.
40. Make your own lists. Business Insider may tell you to complete the Ironman Triathlon before you turn 40, but they can go take a walk (pun intended!). Stick to lists that enrich your own life on your own terms.