Turning 40 (and The 12 Biggest Life Lessons That I Learned in my 30’s) – Part Two
7 minute read
Click here to read Part One of “Turning 40 (and The 12 Biggest Life Lessons That I Learned in my 30’s)” where I talk about things not turning out the way you planned them, the cruelty of life, and amongst many other things, tinnitus, multiple concussions, and potentially psychotic episodes.
Lesson #4 – Hangovers are just not worth it
So how many of you have said the following words?
“That’s it, I’m never drinking again.”
And how many of you have also declared that your hangovers now last for two days?
I can hold my hand up and claim guilty to both of these. And I can also hold my hand up and claim guilty that despite having promised to never drink again, I have in fact gone out once more and drank to excess until I’ve achieved yet another two day hangover and have sworn yet again that I’ll never touch another drop of alcohol in my life. Until next time, that is.
It’s a vicious circle.
But the reality is that I have genuinely turned a corner with these types of shenanigans. The intensity of my hangovers is no longer worth the drinking, and the reality of losing an entire weekend is too painful to fathom.
Shots at the bar? Thanks for the offer, but I’ll give it a miss.
I’d rather my weekends be spent more productively rather than just being a blurred cycle of moving from bedroom to bathroom, and from hanging my head over the toilet bowl, to calling up the local takeaway and ordering the greasiest dish on the menu.
These days I still enjoy drinking, but it’s about enjoying the drink itself.
And it is never about getting drunk.
I love going into a craft ale bar, perusing the menu, making a considered choice, and then enjoying the taste of the beer. I like trying different cocktails, gins, and I’ve developed a real love of whiskies. I like white wine, red wine, and rose when I can’t decide between the two. I love popping open a bottle of champagne or prosecco, sipping on an old fashioned, and oh man, don’t even get me started on the velvety heaven that is the espresso martini!
But in every single instance it is now about the pleasure of the drink itself, not the percentage.
And gone are the days where I’d go out with the intention of getting drunk with my friends. Now it’s a case of going out, enjoying a drink and the company of my friends, and being able to get up the next morning feeling like myself; not like death warmed up.
To some people that may sound boring, but to me it’s been liberating.
Lesson #5 – The importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise cannot be overlooked
I was always blessed with a fast metabolism when I was younger and I used to be able to eat anything I liked without putting on an ounce of fat.
That doesn’t last forever.
On top of this I was also able to eat any concoction of food and drink without experiencing heartburn or indigestion.
These days, however, I have a new best friend.
His name is Rennie.
Although I’ve still been able to maintain a slim figure, it now takes a hell of a lot more work both in terms of physical exercise and planned diet.
If I’m going to have a session on the beer then the next few days need to be lived cleanly. If I’m going out for a meal then I have to think twice about whether or not to have any dessert. If I’ve not had the opportunity to exercise for a couple of days then I know I need to eat lighter meals. In short, life has become about finding the right balance.
The ability to maintain this balance has no doubt been helped by the discipline that was instilled in me during my years of Muay Thai training. Food was fuel, diet had intention, and I’ve experienced the effects of both the correct balance of diet and exercise, as well as the incorrect balance.
This is still with me to this very day and it continues to govern the way I think and act.
Although my serious days of Muay Thai are behind me, I now keep in shape with a balance of running, weight training, HIIT, climbing, cycling, and yoga.
It can never be under-estimated just how important good diet and regular exercise is, not just for creating and maintaining a healthy body, but also for the mind, and for the spirit.
Your mind and your body are your two greatest assets to transport you through life, so what sense does it make to not take care of them? If you treat your body badly then you have to expect that it will respond badly too. It’s like having a job where you drive for a living yet you refuse to take care of and maintain your car. It’s nonsensical.
Some people will gladly forsake healthy whole foods in favour of buying cheap processed alternatives, citing that it’s not cheap to eat healthily. Yet these very same people often don’t think twice about blowing money on numerous drinking sessions each month.
They’ll say that “you only live once”, and yes, that’s true, you do only live once; so what sense does it make to not take care of yourself? Why would you not choose to live healthily and to try to preserve the length and quality of your life?
By all means, enjoy the things you enjoy. But taking care of yourself should always be a priority.
It cannot be underestimated just how important it is to be in control of this part of your life. A healthy mind and body will fight off infections, it will cope better with stress, it will allow you to think and feel more positively, it will fill you with confidence and will enable you to deal with physical duress, and it will empower you to feel the greatest sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
As you get older it is far more difficult to reverse the negative effects of what you’ve thrown at and into your body. And I’ve seen many people that have abused their bodies for years until one day it suddenly catches up on them and they have no choice but to go and see a doctor.
From this point they’ll start to panic and will begin new diets, trying desperately to reverse the effect that years of bad diet, alcohol, drugs, smoking, and little-to-no exercise has had upon them. But once you’ve reached this point, it becomes an uphill struggle. And the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.
Take care of yourself now, don’t leave it too late, and don’t ever stop.
I once heard a quote that sums it up perfectly.
“If you STAY in shape, you never have to GET in shape.”
Lesson #6 – Friends will come and friends will go
I’m sure that, just like me, you’ve had friendships that you believed would last for your entire lifetime; but in reality, those friendships only had the same lifespan as your average dung beetle.
Throughout our twenties we forge new friendships and also carry friendships over from our teen years. And for most of our twenties we stand alongside these friends, the majority of which are single, and life tends to be about one thing; making just enough money so we can piss it all away partying.
We keep responsibilities to a minimum, we fight against conformity, and we do all we can to avoid commitment. Life is one big party and we swear to each other that it will never end, yet all the time we’re just delaying what ultimately becomes inevitable for most people; and then one-by-one our friends are slowly picked off, just like all those drunken horny teenagers in an eighties slasher movie.
But instead of it being a machete-wielding serial killer in a mask that takes out our friends, the perpetrator here is a little less sinister when taken at face value. In this slasher movie called Life, the killer takes various forms; careers, mortgages, marriage, and children; to name but a few.
That space where a huge group of carefree twenty-something people once stood now becomes home to a dwindling population. And it keeps on decreasing by the year.
Okay, okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating the point a little; but friends come, friends go, and the dynamic of those that remain will change to some extent too.
This isn’t always a bad thing though and by embracing those changing dynamics it can open you up to new ways of living, new ways of thinking, and it may even improve the quality of your friendships. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ explanation for this and every situation is different.
Whether it can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing is up to you. But take my word for it, things will change.
They’ll meet girlfriends, or boyfriends, and they get so caught up in their relationship that their time for you becomes less and less. Friends will get married, and although they still remain in your life, their time now has to be compromised while they build a new life and a future with their partner. People will move away and you’ll promise to keep in touch and see each other, but then they get so involved in their new lives that it becomes increasingly difficult to find time AND to travel to see each other.
But the biggest kicker of all is when children come into the picture because that’s when the dynamics really change. This is completely understandable, to an extent, because children should always take priority; but sadly some parents become so immersed in their family lives that they begin to forget about their friends completely.
Or maybe it’s just the type of friends that they forget.
Very often the married parent can no longer relate to their care-free single friend and instead form new friendships with more like-minded people. They’ll create bonds with other parents where they can talk about problems, share ideas, voice concerns, and they can boast proudly about how cute it was that their baby managed to fart so loudly that it set off their neighbour’s car alarm.
Although this is completely understandable in many ways, it doesn’t always have to be the case.
I have friends who are married and have children, yet they still manage to join the rest of us on a night out or ‘get a pass’ for a weekend away. They’re committed husbands and devoted parents, yet they’ve never forgotten the importance of their friendships. We still share the same interests, we laugh in the same way that we always did, and we’re there for each other just the same as we always were.
And it is those friendships, the ones that remain no matter what changes occur in their lives; these are the friendships that will stand the test of time and are the ones that must be cherished and protected at all costs.
Yes, friendships can have ups-and-downs and they need to be worked at and maintained just like any intimate relationship does, but you should not have to run after people or beg for their time; it should be a two way street, fifty-fifty.
And as painful as it may be to accept, sometimes, you just have to let them go.
Click here to read Part Three of “Turning 40 (and The 12 Biggest Life Lessons That I Learned in my 30’s)” will be here on Wednesday 18th April 2018
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