50 things I have learned in 50 years

50 things I have learned in 50 years

It’s my birthday and I am 50! That’s kind of crazy. Like everyone I know, I had these preconceived ideas of what people were like when they were 50 – they were OLD. But! Here I am and I feel a lot younger than I felt when I was … er, younger. Back then I felt heavy and weighted down with the woes of the world. Not so now.

Still, while I don’t feel old, I do feel wise. That’s what all those years have brought me. And as tends to happen at milestones, I’ve been reflecting on the last 50 years and everything I’ve learned, and there is an infinite number of things. So I thought I’d share a few of them. Fifty seems an appropriate number, so here, in no particular order, are 50 things I’ve learned in the last 50 years.

  1. The most important person to have on your side is you.
  2. If someone earnestly asks for your forgiveness, you should give it.
  3. God exists.
  4. God has nothing to do with religion.
  5. Evil is “live” spelled backwards. That basically says it all.
  6. People are like plants. They need light to grow. Love is light.
  7. As a child, you are not responsible for your circumstances. As an adult,  you are.
  8. When you suppress a feeling, it doesn’t just go away. It goes into your body.
  9. It’s not enough to understand what happened to you. You have to purge it from your body, too.
  10. I don’t have to convince anyone of anything. I just have to live by my own truth and let others do the same.
  11. Sex gets better with age.
  12. Sex gets a lot better when it’s with someone you’re crazy about.
  13. There are not very many things in this life that you can control.
  14. You do control your own responses to things, even if it sometimes doesn’t seem like it.
  15. Spiritual sickness is hereditary. It gets passed down through the generations until someone decides to get better and stop it.
  16. The sickness accumulates with each generation.
  17. You control your mind. It does not control you.
  18. It is possible to die and still be alive.
  19. Dealing with dysfunctional people often makes you feel ashamed for no reason.
  20. Shame is the most dangerous feeling there is.
  21. There is a plan for each of our lives. Our job is to find it.
  22. When something starts costing you more than it’s giving you, it’s probably time to move on.
  23. You don’t have to understand everything. You don’t even have to understand most things.
  24. You can be happy if you want to be. You are not a victim.
  25. Self-knowledge and self-love are essential for true happiness.
  26. We all develop unhealthy responses as children.
  27. Letting go of a problem usually brings the best solution.
  28. When in doubt, do nothing.
  29. If you earnestly look for answers, you will find them.
  30. The answers are rarely where you thought they would be.
  31. Most people are kind.
  32. In fact, it is amazing how many people in the world want only the best for you.
  33. Some people are not kind. It has nothing to do with you.
  34. In fact, hardly anything anybody does has to do with you.
  35. That doesn’t mean you should put up with their crap.
  36. It is more than OK not to associate with people that make you feel bad.
  37. You don’t have to make a big deal about walking away. Just go.
  38. You attract the experiences you believe you deserve.
  39. Some people are incapable of self-honesty, and will work overtime to convince you that what is black is white.
  40. Some people will try to make you responsible for their shit.
  41. Being a victim is a choice. Maybe not as a kid, but definitely as an adult.
  42. The best way to avoid disappointment is to adjust your expectations.
  43. Get the hell away from toxic people. They’ll poison you.
  44. Society has a warped way of measuring achievement. Getting university degrees is easy. Knowing yourself is hard.
  45. Sometimes the greatest love just doesn’t work out
  46. Sometimes you get another chance
  47. Resentment, self-pity and self-righteousness are the three greatest obstacles to happiness.
  48. Drama is vastly overrated.
  49. Family is the people who love you, care about you, and support you. They don’t have to be blood.
  50. God can do for you what you can’t do for yourself.

More on some or all of these later. And if you feel like discussing, please feel free. We like comments!


  • I'd Rather Be In Iceland
    Posted at 09:13h, 23 December Reply

    Wow, this is a really great post, Alda. Although I’m not 50 yet I agree with so much of this. 😉 Women particularly let other people bog them down with their own problems, I’ve learned to step away from toxic people sooner rather than later now. We also feel guilty about lots of things that aren’t our problem. I sometimes think men have it easier – but then they don’t usually have the social networks that women have and miss out on a lot.
    I can’t wait to see what you’ve learned by 60! Happy birthday.

  • David Zell
    Posted at 11:14h, 23 December Reply

    Happy Birthday and Mazaltov, Alda !! I shall now bask in the reflected glory of your wisdom …..more please.

  • Gundula
    Posted at 11:31h, 23 December Reply

    Happy birthday – and welcome in my world! Great post!


  • Sylvia Hikins
    Posted at 12:02h, 23 December Reply

    Such wisdom at 50…..the mind boggles at what you will be writing at 80! But seriously, this is a brilliant piece of writing and I look forward to the discussions that will fall out from it. Many of the positive things you list I shared with my partner -who, after two disappointing marriages,turned out to be the love of my life (reciprocated ). After 12 years of incredible everything, he suddenly died which left me in a hopeless void. I compensated by working myself into the ground. Frenzied activity stopped me from thinking, from feeling, from finding myself again. But I am blessed with so many friends in the UK and Iceland and 3 lovely daughters and I have learned that it’s ok to be alone, that only by loving yourself can you in fact reach out and love one another. Happy 50 years wise and wonderful Alda.

  • Irene Ogrizek
    Posted at 12:30h, 23 December Reply

    Your comments about shame really resonated with me. I’ve been dealing with a dysfunctional person/situation and I have not found it easy to understand my responses; I could not understand why I felt so shamed. So thank you for distilling the idea so beautifully. I needed to hear that today.

    Also, yes, I agree there are many kind people out there, and it’s amazing how a lot of them want the best for you. The older I get the more I see of this. It’s so reassuring.

    Thanks for your wonderful observations.

  • Chris
    Posted at 12:39h, 23 December Reply

    Interesting list, I have to read this over, when the kids are in bed.
    I wish you a happy birthday (with a lot of loving people you care for around) and a good start for the next 50 years to come.

  • Susan
    Posted at 14:47h, 23 December Reply

    Very articulate and profound! Happy birthday and, from experience, I can tell you that the first 50 years is just a warmup!!!

  • Douglas Landis
    Posted at 14:53h, 23 December Reply

    Happy birthday Alda! You do not show your 50 years on the outside, but your brain is nice and wrinkley with your accumulated wisdom. You seem to have hit your stride, in life. I hope that when I hit 50 (3 more years!), I will be as wise as you. So much of what you said rings true with my life. I have to agree with you; life seems to get better as I get older.

  • Jon
    Posted at 15:41h, 23 December Reply

    Awesome! Now wait ’til you hit 60!

  • andrea
    Posted at 16:59h, 23 December Reply

    Wise words for the big day, Alda, and there are at least 3 or 4 I need to ponder more carefully. I love how these progress organically from your own thought processes.

  • Stephen Cowdery
    Posted at 20:18h, 23 December Reply

    I’d add “Be good to your body, it’s the only one you’ll ever have.”

  • Karol W.
    Posted at 21:05h, 23 December Reply

    Alda, happy birthday. I have been there and can report that it doesn’t look very different on the other side of fifty. Just keep fit and content and the rest will come effortlessly.

    And consider this – judging from UN statistics, as an Icelander you have another forty or so years to go!

  • Olga
    Posted at 21:19h, 23 December Reply

    Nice post and… Til hamingju með afmælið!!! ^_^

  • Michelle M.
    Posted at 01:58h, 24 December Reply

    Happy Birthday, Alda! Thanks for the words of wisdom, great post.

  • Aldís Amah Hamilton
    Posted at 02:32h, 24 December Reply

    Ah wow mama, on that list is every single thing you’ve brought me up to believe (or taught me recently haha). I can honestly say you live by these rules and hope that when the time comes I’ll be able to reflect them back to you if given the chance 🙂

    Elska þig <3 Til hamingju með afmælið

  • John Hopkins
    Posted at 18:37h, 24 December Reply

    Hej Alda — I just caught up to the fact that you are no longer on FaceBook. Bravo — I have been off it for a few years now after early-adopting, so couldn’t follow you then after you stopped with IWR. Glad you are now on your own turf! Og lika, til hamingju með afmælið! I’m a few years older than you, but am having a good time (just finished a PhD in Australia, it took the first three years of my 50’s but it was a good thing)… After time in the antipodes, I need to get back to Europe/Iceland for a long visit. We’ll see what 2013 brings. Maybe we cross paths in R’vík! Cheers, John

  • alda
    Posted at 22:13h, 26 December Reply

    Thank you all for your comments. They warm my heart and make me feel appreciated. 🙂

  • Rob Hill
    Posted at 02:30h, 28 December Reply

    Happy Birthday Alda! Mine was the 26th, 70yrs.
    Each and every one of your list of fifty is worthy of meditation. Maybe the first one is the most difficult. No one with a charmed, or sheltered life can obtain to this wisdom, so I attribute much to “corrosive knowledge”, and at core some innate ability within you to transform the negative into a positive guide for living, and loving.
    Thank you, Alda

  • Gundula
    Posted at 18:30h, 28 December Reply

    I have been thinking long and hard about no 28: if/ when in doubt, do nothing.
    The general directions seems right, but ‘do nothing’ goes against every instinct I have. We had a big family discussion about it. 😉 Could you live with: if in doubt, wait and see…?
    It was a good discussion! – Thanks.


  • alda
    Posted at 00:42h, 02 January Reply

    @Rob – well happy belated birthday to you! – And thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. Your recognition of ‘corrosive knowledge’ leads me to think you may have acquired some of your own. 🙂

    @Gundula – well, I am glad that my post has provoked some thought! As for your suggestion – I think we’re pretty much on the same page. For me “wait and see” is tantamount to “do nothing”. “See” is what I call “no longer being in doubt”.

  • Katla Lárusdóttir
    Posted at 12:34h, 09 February Reply

    Skynsamasti og skemmtilegasti pistill sem ég hef lesið það sem af er þessu ári, takk!

Post A Comment