Is 40 the new 30; which decade of your life is the best?
Whether you're turning the big 4-0 and feeling a bit depressed or are disillusioned by your upcoming 30th birthday, it's normal to feel a bit down as you get older. Nowadays though, turning 30, 40, 50 or even 60 really is no big deal. Far from 40 being the new 30, many are now hailing it as 'the new 20.'
Age really is just a number, and the saying, “You're only as old as you feel” applies here. Much of our happiness as we get older is dependent on our self-confidence and how we view ourselves. Many people report being happier as they get older, because they care less what others think of them! Think of all the professional athletes who are in their late 30s or early 40s and at the peak of their career, such as cyclist Lance Armstrong (1). There are plenty of A-list actors and actresses in their 40s and 50s too, who still look great and are well-respected, such as Jennifer Aniston and Johnny Depp. We thought we'd look at which decade of your life is the best, so if you're worried about turning 30 or 40, keep reading!
In your 20s
Yeah, they say your 20s are the best decade of your life, but you shouldn't always believe the hype! If you're in your 20s and think this is as good as it gets, we have news for you. Whilst your 20s can be a lot of fun, they're also the decade where you can experience a lot of heartache and go through some really major changes – in fact, they're probably the most changeable decade of your life. Whilst change is good for us, to some degree, in your 20s you may graduate from university, embark on a new career, leave home, move to a new city, buy or rent your first house, get engaged or married, or even have children!
Many people spend their 20s seeking 'validation' – did you know that the impulse control centre of your brain isn't fully developed until you reach 25 (2)? That's why many young people spend their time posting a whole bunch of selfies on Instagram or updating their Facebook status, worrying about how they look and jumping from one relationship to the next. Spontaneous stuff like skinny dipping, staying out all night or jumping on a plane to Italy for the weekend just because you can are part and parcel of being young, but it's not all fun and games.
Your 20s can be difficult because you care a lot about what others think of you, and often a lot of the expectations we have, such as landing our dream job or getting married, might not happen to us. It's easy to find yourself drinking too much wine, binge-watching Netflix, searching for that dream job and feeling a bit fed up!
In your 30s
Being in your 30s is pretty good. Whilst many of us freak out about leaving our 20s behind, being 30 isn't really all that different to being 29! By the time you're in your mid-30s, you'll have experienced a lot. Mistakes in your career and personal life will all have shaped who you are and the way you look at life. Most people will have some degree of financial security by the time they're in their 30s – you may have been working your way up since you graduated, and now you can afford a bigger apartment or a flashier new car.
Your 30s can also differ from your 20s in terms of your social circle – you might find that you have fewer friends (3)! Some friends (and unhealthy relationships) will inevitably fall by the wayside, so whilst your Facebook friends list may have dwindled, those that are left are loyal and awesome!
You'll probably notice an increase in confidence in your 30s too, as you find yourself refusing to take crap from others, standing up for who you are and developing your own way of doing things. This is often the decade to branch out and start your own business or make that move to another country – it's time!
In your 40s
40 might be the new 20, or the new 30, but what's it really like to have hit the big 4-0? Well, you're more aware of what you want from life, for a start. You know yourself, you know what career you want to do and you may even already have had children who have grown up and left home.
Your 40s are a great decade to make plans, whether there are destinations in the world you have always dreamed of visiting, somewhere you'd like to move to or even a new career you'd like to train for. Turning 40 can be the start of a new beginning for many people, and maintaining a fit, healthy lifestyle can help to keep your energy levels up so that you can do all the things you've been daydreaming about!
In your 50s
According to a TODAY survey, life gets better in your 50s (4). 50 is no longer frumpy, and there are plenty of women (and men) in their 50s who are successful, happy and enjoying this decade of their lives the most.
TODAY's survey revealed that 62% of respondents in their 50s were happy with their lives, reporting increased happiness with finances, relationships and their partners. 66% of those surveyed said that they enjoyed more leisure time than ever before, whilst 75% of people think being 50 today is younger than it was in previous generations.
Research shows you're less likely to be stressed in your 50's. Chances are, if you haven't become CEO of your company, you probably never will be, and that's okay with you. Your 50s are about self-acceptance and being comfortable in your own skin. You're also more likely to be confident, with 68% of respondents reporting increased confidence levels in their 50s and over 50% saying they laughed more and had a better sense of humour than in their youth.
Okay, so 50 isn't the new 30, and we will all start to age, but by eating well, exercising regularly and learning to relax, you can change the way you look and stay healthy. The good news is that by the time you're in your 50s, you're less likely to care what others think of you and realise that self-confidence comes from the inside, not external validation!
So which decade of your life is the best? Of course, it will be different for everyone, depending on the way you choose to live your life, your health, your financial standing and a number of other factors. But one thing we can safely say is, there's no reason to fear growing older in today's society, as age really is just a number!
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