My son celebrated a birthday recently. He turned the ripe old age of twenty four. He asked me on the morning of his birthday “Mom, what do you think is your perfect age?” I immediately replied back “I don’t believe I’m there yet”. He challenged me insisting that I should answer somewhere in the mid-twenties, as he like many of his contemporaries focus on physical appearance. Our conversation continued on and off throughout the day and engaged our other family members as we gathered at my parents’ house for a barbecue. Answers to the question ranged as it was evaluated based upon physical appearance, sexual prowess, wisdom, career, relationships and overall happiness. Shout outs of 28, 37, 48, 63, where all heard. Jokingly I burst out in song with Sinatra’s “When I was seventeen, it was a very good year.” So what are the rest of Americans saying about the perfect age?
Gallup’s Well-Being Index reported after analyzing over 85,000 adult responses that if it goes by feeling good about your physical appearance than the seniors are the winners with two-thirds of American’s aged 65 and older agreeing or strongly agreeing that they always feel good about their physical appearance. If the perfect age is measured by overall happiness, then it also looks like the seniors have this one nailed as well. Consistently happiness researchers report a bell shape curve. People are happy in their mid-twenties followed by a decline and low in the mid-forties and back up to a high after sixty-five. To this piece of data, my son immediately decided that he will just crawl back to bed and come out in 40 years.
Although our American culture has always emphasized youth, it is rare to find a middle-age or older adult who says they would like to go back in time. Many of us tremble at the idea. Or do you rarely find a thirty year old who would like to fast forward to seventy. Thus, I have to change my immediate answer that I haven’t reach the perfect age and conclude that the perfect age is NOW, whatever your chronological age. For with every year of your life’s journey there are lessons, hardships, heartaches, and celebrations. It’s how we react to our challenges that determines the outcome. So looking back on the years when I was a single mom with two teenagers; the bills weren’t paid; and a typical work week was 80 hours plus, I conclude these were perfect years.
Appreciate each day and year as a gift. How will you open up your gift each morning? Do it with the joy and enthusiasm of a child knowing that your perfect age is NOW!