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Life Begins at Forty

Updated on October 5, 2016

There’s something about turning forty that brings out the philosopher in us all. “You’re only as old as the person you feel” we’re told with a knowing grin, “Forty is the new thirty” and, of course, that old chestnut, “Life begins at forty you know”. In fact, I thought I did know and that those comforting words of support, understanding and, dare I say it, humor, were only voiced as a means of softening the inevitable blow of being shoved through the door to middle-age and then having it slammed shut behind me but, on reflection, I have to admit that my friends were actually right this time and here’s why:

The liberation of the big 4-0 has enabled me to look at myself and my own needs from not so much a selfish point of view but an assured and settled one. This in itself is quite magical from an ‘inner sanctum’ point of view as it offers us, for perhaps the first time in our adult lives, freedom from the weight of others’ judgement that we have perhaps unknowingly carried around with us since our childhood. Suddenly, in our forties we acquire the liberating understanding that no-one’s judgement really matters except our own. That, instead of feeling responsible for other people’s happiness, we can simply choose to embrace the understanding that we can’t change the world after all and that, instead of watching our life go by through the expectant eyes of others, we can actually start living it on our own terms.

I can remember all those years of doubt, worry and guilt brought about by others’ opinions of me or perhaps my perception of their opinions of me. Either way, it doesn’t really matter because, in effect, I was my own worst critic in that I chose to stop listening to my own needs. I stopped listening for so long in fact that I forgot what those needs were. The re-awakening of my dreams and my acknowledgement of my own ‘power to achieve’ has rekindled an energy lost since childhood. Once again my mind is full of possibilities.

I don’t know what causes this miracle to happen to us at this landmark time in our lives - hormones perhaps? Or maybe it’s just a spiritual gift that has been there all along, like a forgotten and dusty old Christmas present lost in the attics of our subconscious minds. Somehow at forty, we find ourselves holding this long lost gift, unwrapping it and joyfully embracing it’s contents.

So, to all of you about to turn forty I say this: be prepared for the unexpected - you! Enjoy your fortieth birthday and the years to come with all their magic, miracles and above all the understanding that life really has just begun.


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    • drgratton profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      So glad if my words have struck a chord. Let's all remember to keep believing in ourselves and our passions, no matter what the years dictate. As someone once said, we're "only as young as our shoe size".

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      7 years ago from USA

      I was intrigued by the title of your article so I clicked on it. I have some years before I turn 40 but I think you have written very inspirational words here!

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      Hi drgratton, A very good article about something which, as you say doesn't need to be the end of the world.


    • awsydney profile image


      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Quite true for me anyway. Significant changes over the last 3 years for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • drgratton profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you so much for your comments - you're very kind. Yes, I was born and educated in Cambridge and now live in Belgium with my husband.

    • The Lost Dutchman profile image

      Patrick Bernauw 

      10 years ago from Flanders (Belgium)

      Being 46 by now, I perfectly understand!... And I must agree with Frances: what a great style! It shows here is a real writer writing... Is English your native language?

    • profile image

      Frances Rees 

      10 years ago

      I'm in total agreement with your article and such great style. Keep up the good work.


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