Myth-Busting: 60 Is Not The New 40, And It’s OK

It’s a phrase often tossed around at “big” birthdays: 40 is the new 30, and 60 is the new 40 – just to make the birthday girl feel good, I think. All those ages can be marvelous in different ways. And I’m here to testify that for sure, 60 is not the new 40. For example, people who are 40 right now may not know who those adorable boys at the top of the page were. Sixty-somethings remember where we were when the boys shook up the world on the Ed Sullivan show in 1963.

Sixty (I’m 62) is not the new forty, and I really don’t want it to be. There are some very cool, and some not-so-cool things about being 60+ but wishing I was 40 isn’t one of them. Life moves forward, and new realities take the stage.

At 40 I was just opening my own private psychotherapy practice – happy and anxious and working my butt off.

When we were 40, both Sandy’s and my parents were healthy and vigorous. We’d do trips and holidays together. Now both our dads are gone, and both our mothers are lost in the fog of dementia. Many of our cohorts have lost both parents.

My dad and mom at our wedding in 2001. My dad had the best time!

Sandy’s dad and mom. She doesn’t look as happy, but she was relieved that Sandy finally got hitched at age 45 : >

At 40, both Sandy and I were focused on having successful careers: striving, competing, “networking”, and making the bills. Sandy worked 60-hour weeks routinely. Now I’m fortunate to be retired and Sandy, while still working hard, is starting to look at a graceful exit plan from his business.

There’s a subtle – but inevitable – physical change for most of us at 60: more of my conversations with like-aged friends involve medical conditions, injuries, or diminishment of our physical selves. Since I broke my wrist last August, I’ve developed arthritis and it’s not going away.

But the way I’ve approached my 60’s means I’ve stopped trying to “be” what I was not: the life of the party, a great athlete, an accomplished musician (I can sing now), or model-beautiful. With 60 has come less striving/straining and more acceptance/peace. I don’t have to keep looking ahead to “be”, I feel like I “am”.

And all the good stuff still accrues too: we’re wiser, more deeply and quietly in love, and more honest in character. We have time to be activists if we choose, or at least idealists again. More time to be creative, more assertive, more appreciative of a beautiful day.

At 62, I feel alive and happy and grateful. I don’t feel 40, and that’s OK.

Stay fabulous, revel in whatever age you are, and enjoy every sandwich, xo

Some lovely pieces, for any age, to browse through:

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  1. Amen! I celebrated turning 60. It’s a gift, a milestone. I’m much better at 60 than I was at 40! And I don’t even look back!

  2. i will be 41 in a few months, but I can still relate. While I am slightly anxious to fully enter the realm of the 40’s (whose boobs are these?), I have no desire to be 30 either. At 30 i had no career, no child. I did have great friends, and I still do. What totally rocks about aging is the increase in confidence to become the woman i used to wish i would be. and what gives me hope, is women like you and those who have commented on this page, seems to be like 50 and 60s are the times when we continue to build our where withall to really be. I love it! PS, i knew those were the beatles by the way – my parents were big fans:P

  3. Patti, this is just perfect! The joy of getting older is accepting oneself as one is–and your beautifully written and wise post helps us to see the wonderful reality of it all! Thank you

  4. Thank you for writing this. This post shows great perspective and many of us don’t realize the true benefits of aging. Every stage of life have something beautiful in it and I look forward to my son’s wedding next year!!

    I’m truly sorry about your parents- that must be heartbreaking to witness. I have lost both my parents and a sibling also. So I hear you. My disease has kept my outlook in good perspective also. Because it is rather serious, I am very grateful for all the things that I can do and do not dwell on the things that I cannot. So while I am physically limited, I appreciate everyday things more. I think this is true of most people our age.
    It is always good to go forward.

  5. One of my favorite posts ever Patti. You very convincingly and eloquently reminded us of all the reasons it makes sense to mindfully live in your own skin.

  6. Thoughtful and well-written post Patti! I agree, 60 is not the new 40, 50 isn’t the new 30, etc. With each passing year comes more challenges to cope with (I’m with you on the arthritis thing) and new pains that make me question whether “this” is my new normal” But also with the challenges, I have found I have a greater amount of patience and emotional stability with which to deal with them.

  7. What a refreshing viewpoint. “And that’s OK.” I guess I had become desensitized to the X is the new Y. So many changes in those years. Acceptance at any age, it’s a goal; some days are better than others at embracing change.

    • Love that phrase “embracing change.” It’s gonna come, might as well embrace. Stay fab, xox

  8. What a beautiful post! It speaks to just accepting ourselves at whatever age we happen to be and allowing ourselves to truly be who we are. I will turn sixty my next birthday and it is a milestone for sure. But, like you, I prefer to keep moving forward and would not wish to be 40, or even 50, again.

    • Thank you Debbie for your insightful remark, and congrats on being thisclose to 60! xo

  9. Great words of wisdom! It took me till I was 40 to be “okay” with being me for some reason. I stopped trying to be a people pleaser too. I turned 50 last December and this was a great milestone for me! I have never understood where people don’t embrace getting older. I grew up loving my grandmother dearly–we were best friends. I had children kind of late (33 and again at 35). I tell people it isn’t hard having kids in your 30s, but it is hard having teenagers when you are 50! I don’t have the energy I use to, but I still do pretty good I think.

  10. Oh, Patti, I love this. I am still in my 40s (and I do know who those Boys are–ha ha!) but I relate mostly to what you said because every time I hear someone say “40 is the new 20” or “60 is the new 40” I feel like it diminishes the life I’ve lead. As if 40 can only matter if it’s like 20 and nothing I did in the interim means anything. Like you, I don’t want to be 20 again, or 40 either. I want to keep living and exploring what’s ahead, not looking back over my shoulder to an age I’ll never be part of again. Every year is a celebration in my mind. Your post resonated deeply. So now I can continue looking forward to 60 and owning every year. Thank you for this.


    • Yeah, I guess the Beatles got some positive press! : > Love what you wrote about exploring what’s ahead, xox

  11. A very thoughtful post, Patti, and a true testimony for being happy with the age you are. There are positive and negative aspects to every age and if I’m not as lithe and supple as I was in, let’s say, my 30s and 40s, it is only when I turned 50 that I gained confidence and started to be happy in my own skin. xxx

  12. It is funny because two days ago in preparation for our upcoming vacation I had to subject myself to one of the true horrors in life…that’s right…I had to try on a bathing suit. I had mentally prepared myself for massive disappointment however when I tried the bathing suit on the image I saw looking back at me in the mirror was far from disappointing. I saw a confident, mature woman, not with a twenty year old’s body, but that’s to be expected, I’m not twenty and haven’t been for some 31 years. I surprised myself.

    Unrealistic expectations that are portrayed in media shouldn’t influence our personal expectations. Sure, Jane Semour may be able to pose for Playboy at 67 but just how many Jane Semours are there?

    I think more than anything it is the health issues with that I find the most taxing about aging. Learning to live with our new realities takes acceptance and patience. Living within our new physical limitations and coping with new pain can be frustrating and depressing. Finding a way through that and out the other side defines how well we will age.

    Great post Patti!


    • I saw your vacation pics from last year, and you ROCK your swimsuits. You’re so right about health, the one thing that really makes later life enjoyable. xox

  13. At 40, I still had four children at home. I was a single mom juggling a job, a long commute, feeding and clothing my kids on a limited income, as well as keeping track their activities at three different schools. Oh, and sleeping–four to five hours a night. At 67, I have just retired. I remarried a while back and now have five grandchildren. I absolutely don’t have the stamina I had at 40. However, I am quite fine with not trying to be something I am not (40), especially since two of children are already in their 40s :). At my (real) age, I don’t have the energy or desire to deal with things I had to do at 40. I think we do ourselves a disservice by not simply living each decade in ways that make sense for our current situation (i.e. physical and/or fiscal health) and beating ourselves up if we don’t magically fit the ’60 is the new 40′ concept. I am okay with–hopefully–aging gracefully and gratefully accepting each year as a time to discover something new without looking back over my shoulder at the past.

    • Wonderful words, thank you Mary. Love this: “I think we do ourselves a disservice by not simply living each decade in ways that make sense for our current situation.” xo

  14. Yes and no.
    I am more composed and at peace than I was at 40. All the better, and I wouldn’t want to go back.
    But when I look at photos of my parents and my grandparents, I see that I act more like a 40-year-old than like a 60-year-old. Even compared with my hyperactive grandma who could high-kick like a ballerina when she was 85. She never would have gone running, for example, or ridden a bike. I’m a couple of years shy of 60 and still working, and, since I had a kid very late, expect to work for many more years. I’m not talking about looks but about attitude. 60 might not be the new 40 but I think it is the new 50.

    • Thank you, TOF, for your thoughtful comment. So glad you’ve got it going on strong in your 50’s. xo

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