“Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.” – Carroll Bryant
Upon the arrival of “adulthood”, society expects us to abandon our childlike tendencies, get a job, buy our own houses, and fall in line so we can become responsible, upstanding citizens of the world. As we get older, we tend to keep following the same old script, and somehow lose ourselves along the way. A lot of us feel much older than our age and wish we could turn back the hands of time. But, what if we said that you don’t have to become a hardened robot in order to attain maturity?
You don’t have to grow up to grow old – you can gain wisdom and experience without letting the strain of life age you. To know whether you have actually been maturing as you age, without simply growing old, let the following signs help you decide.
1. You have embraced your highest self.
A lot of people feel so old because they let their souls die in favor of fitting in and following the status quo. They give up their dreams and passions because they feel that the scripted reality seems much more achievable. By following the safe route in life, many feel dead before they even see their 21st birthday. However, a person who can be themselves and do what they love despite what others say marks a sign of maturity and self-actualization, a milestone many don’t reach because they’re too busy being someone other than themselves.
2. You go with the flow in life.
Most of society constantly fights the natural flow of life, thinking that this will get them to the next rung on the ladder more quickly. Yet, many of these people remain stuck in these cyclical patterns their whole lives, never feeling satisfied with their current situation. They might make $50,000 one year and not feel fulfilled because they really wanted to make $500,000, so the vicious pattern continues.
Mature people realize that they must surrender to what is before they can appreciate what’s to be. They have a resilient, optimistic attitude, which helps them handle life’s ups and downs much easier.
3. The material, economic world doesn’t define you.
You don’t care about keeping up with the Joneses, because you realize that this becomes fruitless after a while. Someone else will always have more than you, but you don’t let that bother you. You feel thankful for what you do have and strive to do your best every day. Maybe you won’t become a millionaire and have an impeccable credit score and a sprawling mansion, but you know you can’t take these things with you anyway. You have detached yourself somewhat from the rat race, and know that your true value comes from the size of your heart, not your bank account.
4. You see life as a playground and have fun often.
You view responsibility as staying true to your heart and being able to create your own happiness, not paying a bunch of bills and sitting in an office all day. While most of us must pay bills to survive, we don’t have to sell our souls in the process. Adults are often viewed as immature if they act like children, but aren’t we all just kids in adult bodies anyway? You know that having a whimsical, carefree disposition is vital to maturing gracefully, and have never given in to society’s idea of growing up. You still run through sprinklers in the summer and play hide-and-seek sometimes, and you don’t care what others think about it.
5. You have learned to adopt a positive attitude.
Our predominant thoughts about life determine what kind of person we become, and you know that having a positive outlook will sculpt you into a much more balanced, happy person. You have given up the need to complain, compare yourself to others, and engage with people or activities that will only bring you down. Aging people often have a bitter attitude about life, but maturing people have realized the value in optimism. You have so much love and positivity in your heart that you can’t help but spread it around, and others appreciate your upbeat attitude.
6. You don’t try to change what you can’t control.
You know that you only have control over yourself, so you don’t waste energy on attempting to change others. You also know that change is the only constant in life, and embrace whatever life throws at you. You roll with the punches, try to become the best version of yourself, and realize that life’s beauty becomes apparent when you surrender to the unexpected.
7. You have unconditional love for everyone you meet.
Maybe you used to judge people, including yourself, in your earlier years. However, you eventually realized that only love would set you free, so you became more understanding and compassionate toward yourself and everyone else. You don’t criticize yourself or others on this journey of life, and know that everyone must take their own paths to self-discovery. You embrace the duality of human nature, and have even learned to love people who don’t show it in return.
8. You think before reacting.
You weigh people’s words carefully, and don’t let your emotions get out of hand. You respond to people with reason, and try to fully understand their point of view. Even if you feel they are out of line, you don’t stoop down to their level. You discuss issues with them calmly, and don’t let your temper overtake the conversation. A true sign of maturity is when you can try to understand people that have hurt you instead of trying to get revenge on them.
9. You have mastered the art of listening.
You have humbled your ego enough to where you can listen intently to another person without feeling the need to interject your own opinion before they get finished speaking. You know that you can learn more by listening than you can by talking, so you quiet your inner dialogue as much as possible and allow yourself to fully absorb other’s unique outlook on life.
10. You know what patience truly means.
In this world of instant gratification, you know the value of patience. You don’t expect things to just fall into your lap or happen instantly; instead, you put in effort and wait for the rewards to materialize, no matter how long it takes. You don’t demand anything of life, but rather, you know that you owe something to it. You know the satisfaction of living a slower paced life than most of society, and try to set a positive example for a world that seems to move much too quickly. You realize you will get more out of life if you slow down and observe it rather than let everything pass you by.
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